Early experiences with diabetes led to generosity
First published November 2010
Unbeknownst to him, a young man who was dealing with type 1 diabetes since age seven ultimately made a lifelong impact on Ann Juster.
She was only 24, employed as a medical social worker at the University of Minnesota Hospital, but Ms. Juster was struck by the magnitude of this disease. The complications he suffered, including neuropathy, retinopathy and impotence, were overwhelming. The image of the man suffering never left her.
Then, a little further into her career, Ms. Juster was given an unconventional assignment at Minneapolis Lighthouse for the Blind. Although Ms. Juster had, at that point, regularly engaged with patients with diabetic retinopathy, neuropathy and cardiovascular complications, the assignment made her truly aware of diabetes in a very profound way. The task was to be blindfolded for a day, relying on her other senses entirely. “I experienced what it was like to be blinded,” Ms. Juster recalls. “It was both a meaningful and frightening experience.”
To this day, Ms. Juster still remembers the effects of these particular experiences and credits them as a big reason that she contributes now to the American Diabetes Association and its Research Foundation. “I promised to myself that if I were ever in the position to give back, diabetes would be my one of my principal causes,” Ms. Juster says.
A Chance to Give Back
From a family who has dedicated themselves to philanthropic causes, Ms. Juster is now in a position to make good on a promise. Today, she divides her time among her priorities, including her college-aged children, various volunteer commitments, and her work at her family business.
A sincere woman, passionate about helping others, Ms. Juster became increasingly interested in diabetes science. Her professional life evolved from medical work to clinical social work. At Bellvue Hospital in New York, she saw patients struggling with the physical and emotional issues of diabetes. Over the course of many years’ observations, Ms. Juster’s support of the science behind diabetes became stronger.
Ms. Juster’s dedication to diabetes research came full circle this year in 2010 when she attended the American Diabetes Association 70th Annual Scientific Sessions in Orlando, Florida. Speaking of this experience—the world’s largest diabetes event—she says, “SciSessions serves as a kind of city of commonality for people who are totally devoted to treating diabetes and finding a cure.” There in Orlando, Ms. Juster was able to meet many of the people who are working to cure diabetes.
Seeing the impact of 17,000 individuals congregating at Scientific Sessions gave Ms. Juster hope that this worldwide epidemic will be stopped one day. “I always knew about what was going on with diabetes in a certain sphere,” she thinks. “However, my understanding of and interest in diabetes research has increased since this amazing event.”
Additionally, Ms. Juster has traveled to laboratories in the New York area—to Yale, Columbia and Albert Einstein—to visit who she calls the “silent heroes” of diabetes research. “They have dedicated their life to investigating such a complicated disease and are so very committed to their craft,” she says, speaking of the principal investigators funded by the Association and its Research Foundation.
Fully committed to the goals of the Association, Ms. Juster has opened up her home to host educational and research meetings, and she has volunteered in local and national special events. As a founding member of the Pinnacle Society, Ms. Juster pledged her commitment to the Research Foundation in order to help individuals with type 1, type 2 diabetes and their related complications.
Ms. Juster is now a Research Ambassador for the Research Foundation, encouraging others to support diabetes science through major donations and planned gifts. As always, she leads by example; she has recently been named part of the Summit Circle, which honors those who have left the Association in their estate plans. Through years of action, discovery and rowth, Ms. Juster has witnessed first-hand the impact of her commitment.
She sees what new discoveries can do for people with diabetes through the innovative science funded by the Association and its Research Foundation.
“We have progressed so much since my time in Minneapolis, and I know we will continue to do so,” she says.