It is an understatement to say that Jake Fine is a “go-getter.” Jake, age 14, has made remarkable contributions to the world of diabetes by organizing community programs, education, advocacy and fundraising efforts — all to improve the lives of children and families and find a cure for diabetes. Jake’s mom, Debi, remembers when he was diagnosed at age 7. “On that August day the door bell rang and there was diabetes. First we cried, then we mobilized, then we established normalcy and then we started fundraising.” Debi recalls that it was through the power of community, friends and family that Jake and his family felt a sense of normalcy when he returned home after being diagnosed.
Shortly after being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, Jake, his brother and parents started their own philanthropic efforts. It began when Jake and his brother co-founded the formation of “Team Brotherly Love,” which to date has raised $1.2 million dollars to find a cure for diabetes. Next, they founded “Dollars for Diabetes,” an initiative to enable kids to fundraise literally $1 at a time — totaling $180,000 to date. His “Kicks for Cash” program launched paper-sneaker sales in four local schools and raised $1,400 in its first two years and is now expanding to other schools. “Team Brotherly Love” and its related programs have provided the opportunity for a growing number of kids and families to join forces in funding diabetes research.
While fundraising to find a cure is important, supporting other children living daily with diabetes is also a focus of Jake’s energy. One of the innovative programs Jake created is “Fine Friends,” an online buddy system to provide email support to newly diagnosed children in the Mercer/Bucks county of New Jersey. Another project he initiated was “DIG” (Drink, Icing, Glucagon) to provide fast and simple information about diabetes emergency procedures for friends, teachers, counselors, coaches and parents of children with diabetes.
Jake is a strong advocate for promoting awareness and funding research to find a cure. He was one of two students invited to address delegates at the United Nations on the second World Diabetes Day in 2008. He was selected to represent the state of New Jersey at the 2011-2012 JDRF’s Children’s Congress in Washington, DC, to lobby for congressional funding.
Jake manages his diabetes well with an insulin pump. The biggest challenge for him right now is managing his blood sugars when he is extremely active with crew, tennis or lacrosse. When you talk with Jake though, he really doesn’t want to focus the attention on his own diabetes. He would much rather focus on fundraising to find a cure. Jake says, “From what began as just two brothers is now over 200 kids in our community who have been involved in fundraising to find a cure for diabetes. Clearly one shouldn’t minimize the influence of kids in a community.”
Jake plans to continue his philanthropic efforts to support others living with diabetes, with the goal of ultimately finding a cure.