On Tuesday, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), along with Strack and Van Til, kicked off their fundraising campaign at Hidden Lake Park, in Merrillville, which coincides with their upcoming ‘JDRF One Walk’ on September 25th.
The JDRF and the One Walk event has one single goal: creating a world without Type 1 Diabetes (T1D). T1D is an autoimmune disease that strikes children and adults suddenly. There is nothing you can do to prevent T1D. While, currently, there is no cure, participating in this year’s JDRF One Walk is something you can do to help.
“I got started with the JDRF back in the late ‘90s with Bob Welsh of Welsh Oil after his daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes,” said Jeff Strack, Strack and Van Til President and CEO. “At the time there was not a ‘Walk’ in Merrillville and he asked for the support of local businesses and Strack and Van Til was proud to step up, and that’s how I got into the JDRF mission.”
Over the years, Strack and Van Til has maintained its support for the JDRF and in 2014 the organization approached (Jeff) Strack about the possibility of becoming the chairman of the upcoming ‘Walk’. While it didn’t work out for Strack to chair the JDRF’s event that year, the following year, in 2015, the pieces came together.
“It was kind of at the last minute last year that I stepped in and chaired the ‘Walk’ and we raised over $210K which was an increase from the year,” Strack said. “This year I said I’d be willing to do it another year to help solidify things and hopefully build a strong foundation for another local leader to take it over next year, and take it to another level.”
While juvenile diabetes hasn’t touched Strack personally, he spoke about the impact the disease has on children and their families.
“We know so many people that have children, or even adults, that have Type 1 Diabetes and especially the people that work for us,” Strack said. “You see how it affects their children and how it affects the parents of a child with Type 1 Diabetes. It’s something that I believe there are so many positive things coming with the research and that there we are close to putting an end to Type 1.”
“It’s an honor to be associated with an organization that has had so much advancement over the years,” said Strack. “I still remember listening to him (Welsh), and others attending meetings, tell their stories and knowing that many of our employees are affected has inspired me and motivated me to help find a solution.”
The JDRF event in Merrillville is one of the hundreds of JDRF One Walks across the country and the money the organization raises will support JDRF, which is the leading global organization funding T1D research.
“He’s been amazing for us,” said Mimi Crabtree, Executive Director of the Illinois Chapter, speaking about Strack’s involvement with the organization. “What he does is just involve everyone -- the community, his employees and their families. He’s a great champion for us.”
Since their beginning, the JDRF has put $2 billion into research and is currently funding 121 projects dedicated to finding a cure for T1D.
“A lot of it is done at the grassroots like this,” Crabtree said. “The people in this room will lobby their friends and neighbors to walk with them so it isn’t what we do. It’s what the volunteers in this room do for us. We’re here to motivate them and get them ready to get out there.”
Through communities like those in Lake County, and Northwest Indiana, and through the global sharing of technology and innovations, the cure to T1D is closer than ever. As Crabtree put it, their goal is, “to do the greatest good, for the largest amount of people, in the shortest amount of time.”
This year’s JDRF One Walk takes place on September 25th at Hidden Lake Park in Merrillville. To make a donation or find out how you can be apart of this year’s JDRF One Walk, click here!