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 the day when he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 7.
“First we cried, then we mobilized, then we established normalcy and then we started fundraising,” says Debi.
She 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.
Fundraising to find a cure for diabetes
Shortly after being diagnosed with diabetes, Jake, his brother, and his parents started their own philanthropic efforts. It began when Jake and his brother co-founded the 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. His Kicks for Cash program launched paper-sneaker sales in four local schools and raised $1,400 in its first two years. And it's now expanding to other schools.
Providing support, educating others
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 County, NJ, and Bucks County, PA, area.
Another project he initiated was DIG (Drink, Icing, Glucagon), which provides fast and simple information about diabetes emergency procedures for friends, teachers, counselors, coaches and parents of children with diabetes.
Efforts well recognized
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 also selected to represent the state of New Jersey at the 2011-2012 JDRF’s Children’s Congress in Washington, DC.
A community comes together
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.
“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.
Originally posted: February 2012