By Shree Mukilan
I’m proud to support the American Diabetes Association. I’d encourage you to lend your support as well.
More than 34 million Americans live with diabetes, according to the ADA. That’s about one in every ten of us. Dealing with diabetes is difficult for anyone, but it’s especially challenging for older patients who’ve experienced significant disease progression prior to diagnosis. The earlier diabetes is identified, the easier it is to treat.
Sounds simple, right? But many people (myself among them, until recently) aren’t aware of the telltale signs of diabetes.
“One of the ADA’s most fundamental missions is to make this information available to everyone — to educate the public about the warning signs and risks of diabetes.” — Shree Mukilan Pari
The ADA also advocates for more funding into life-enhancing (and potentially lifesaving) diabetes research, which is widely recognized as the best way to fight back against this costly affliction.
My plan to contribute to the ADA is humble: going to ADA events, fundraising on behalf of the organization, and doing my part to spread awareness of the disease among my friends, family, and colleagues. I challenge everyone in my network to do their own part to support the ADA, too.
Why I Support the American Diabetes Association
As mentioned, the American Diabetes Association devotes much of its energy to educating the public about diabetes itself. Its diabetes information page distinguishes between type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes, along with less common presentations such as neonatal diabetes and drug- and chemical-induced diabetes.
The ADA also provides information and tools for individuals who’d like to assess their diabetes risk and make proactive lifestyle changes that may prevent or delay the onset of diabetes (or, for those already suffering from diabetes, reduce the risk of complications and improve quality of life).
And the ADA provides valuable resources and support for people living with diabetes, standing as a resolute partner in a complex healthcare landscape that so often doesn’t seem to care about regular folks. These include support for patients navigating private health insurance, for educators serving students with diabetes, and for medical practitioners serving patients with diabetes or looking to integrate diabetes care into their practices.
The ADA isn’t only an educational organization, of course. Its advocacy arm lobbies fiercely on behalf of people living with diabetes, aiming to increase research opportunities and funding while improving access to care. In the last year alone, despite a once-in-a-century pandemic, the ADA’s advocacy earned some impressive victories:
- Achieving reauthorization of the $600 million Special Diabetes Program in Congress
- Adding two more states to the roster of states requiring diabetes action plans (now up to 27)
- Bringing 200 activists to Capitol Hill to advocate for federal diabetes priorities
What You Can Do to Support the American Diabetes Association
I’m just one person out of millions. I’m not famous or fabulously wealthy. I don’t hold elected office. And yet I know that my support can make a real difference in the lives of people living with diabetes.
If my modest support can make a difference, surely yours can as well. Among the many ways you can give back to the ADA and touch the lives of Americans with diabetes are:
- Join a Fundraising Initiative As an Individual. The American Diabetes Association runs hundreds of local fundraising events each year, including premier initiatives like the Step Out Walk and the Tour de Cure group bicycle ride. And supporters put on far more “DIY” fundraisers, from yard sales to game nights to who knows what else. None would be possible without the hard work and generosity of individuals like you.
- Explore Corporate Giving Options. If you own or work at a business that’s looking to make a difference in the lives of others, explore the ADA’s corporate giving options. It doesn’t take much in the grand scheme of things: just $1,000 could help 500 newly diagnosed adults begin type 2 diabetes management.
- Become a Volunteer. If you don’t have the financial resources to give right now, don’t lose hope. You can still do your part to support the ADA’s mission. You might consider volunteering at one of the many ADA-supported camps for kids living with diabetes, participating in the Project Power initiative for kids at risk of type 2 diabetes, or serving as a volunteer at one of the ADA’s premier fundraising events. The choice is yours.
What can you commit to doing in support of the American Diabetes Association? What part of the ADA’s mission is most important to you?
Shree Mukilan Pari is an aspiring medical student who’s passionate about improving the quality of life of those less fortunate among us.