Davida F. Kruger:
A Family History Leads to a Passion for Diabetes
Published February 2009
I have witnessed first-hand the impact that diabetes has on the people we care about. When I was young, I watched my mother live her life with type 2 diabetes. Other members of my family, including my grandmother, lived with the same disease, all dealing with its demands and complications.
Thirty years ago, diabetes was not taken seriously the way it is today. The medical community did not appreciate the depth diabetes affected individuals' health or how many complications were connected with the illness. In 1981, my grandmother died at age 76 from cardiovascular disease, a diabetic complication. She had lived most of her life with diabetes, as did two of my uncles, who both died young from its complications.
Because of these early experiences, I knew that I wanted to make fighting diabetes a priority. In fact, I knew I wanted to make it my life's work, helping to make the lives of people with diabetes better. Certainly, part of my professional and volunteer experiences with diabetes is in memory of my family.
Thus, in 1982, I became a certified nurse practitioner focusing on diabetes and diabetes research in Detroit, by joining the Henry Ford Health System.
With my specialized background in diabetes, I became a member of the American Diabetes Association’s professional group and volunteered for the Association through the local Detroit office. I participated in meetings and special events by helping to fundraise for walks and galas. It was only a matter of time before I was recruited to help fundraise for larger gifts. With my health care background, as well as family history, I was able to encourage others.
As a volunteer and Pinnacle Society member, I know what good the Association’s Research Foundation does with our contributions. Major gifts to the organization make impressive impacts on Association-awarded research projects. I truly love fundraising for the organization, because I know that every check written to the Research Foundation is 100 percent dedicated to funding science. Administrative and overhead costs are covered by the organization's general fund.
The Association’s Research Foundation represents the best place to invest your philanthropic support. The Foundation is in a unique position to be able to match a donor's major gift with that individual's interest and dollars with a particular research project. In addition to funding the best diabetes scientists, the Association also supports many people through their educational programs, Diabetes Legal Advocacy Program and Diabetes Camps.
In 1995, I had the honor of serving the American Diabetes Association as the President of Health Care and Education, and more recently, as the Chair of the Research Foundation. In my time at the organization and working as a healthcare professional, I am amazed at how far we have come. Insulin delivery systems, continuous glucose monitoring, better and safer medications, better ways of caring for people with diabetes, and a better understanding of the disease are just a few of the many advances that have been made because dedicated people invested in research in the early stages of this organization.
For 25 years, I have been fortunate to watch our organization become a powerhouse in championing diabetes and diabetes-related causes. The American Diabetes Association helped implement the Best Practice guidelines for diabetes management and care, discovered new ways to treat diabetes and its complications, and instituted prevention techniques, among other landmarks.
People in the 1960s and 70s, like my mother, did not test or measure their glucose with any accuracy, and there were minimal pharmaceuticals available to manage diabetes or its complications. In the past, diabetes was once an uncontrollable disease. I am happy to report that is no longer the case.
Yet, we have a long way to go. I have taken our dedication to the Association into the future by becoming a Summit Circle member and leaving a lasting legacy with the organization. I take great satisfaction in knowing that I have made the Association’s Research Foundation more prosperous thanks to my gifts. I know that my donations will help the organization assist individuals and families who live with diabetes, better.
Every day, my passion for preventing and curing diabetes grows. I began working in the diabetes arena and with the Association because of my mother and family, but my reasons for continuing to work with diabetes have evolved. Each day I meet someone who has diabetes, and I become more engaged. Those individuals, families and children are who inspire me now. I came for one reason and stayed for something else.
As I tell my fellow volunteers and donors, I feel we owe it to all people with diabetes to involve as many people as possible in our mission. I ask each volunteer and donor what they know about the mission of the American Diabetes Association and ask how they would like to serve. We owe it to all people with diabetes to involve as many people as we can in our mission to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes.