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Discover CEO David Nelms on how JDRF is working to find a cure for diabetes

David Nelms

David Nelms

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Updated: October 18, 2013 2:25PM

Imagine having a healthy 4-year-old son one day and being told he has a serious, life-threatening disease the next. In 1990, our son Bradlee was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, and went from learning his ABCs to learning about insulin levels. From that day forward, normal took on a whole new meaning for our family.

We learned that we would have to inject insulin, prick our son’s tiny fingers multiple times daily to test his blood glucose levels and diligently watch his food intake and exercise to keep him alive and healthy. This is the life of someone with T1D. This is the life lived by more than 3 million Americans every day.

Shortly after our son’s diagnosis, I got involved with JDRF (then known as Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation), an organization founded by parents looking for a brighter future for their children with T1D. JDRF’s mission is to improve the lives of people with T1D while searching for a cure. When a family has a child facing any serious disease, organizations like this can mean the world to them. We were able to channel our concerns for the health and future of our child through JDRF to learn about the disease and try to make a difference.

Twenty-three years after his initial diagnosis, Bradlee remains positive, despite the countless tests, shots and challenges of T1D. He continues to inspire our family. He still faces the daily burden of this disease and the constant threat of complications, but he has benefited from the progress achieved to help manage this disease. In elementary school, my son’s blood glucose tester was too large to be carried by a child and his day was disrupted by trips to the school nurse. By the time he was in college, his tester was small enough for him to carry in his pocket. Today he wears a continuous glucose monitor, which monitors his levels for him. These are incredible advances that have occurred in his lifetime, and we continue to be encouraged by tangible advantages that make him safer every day.

Finding a cure is incredibly important to our family. We want to see our son live a full, healthy life with every possible opportunity. We want him to spend a day — even an hour — of his life without having to think of this disease.

That’s why you’ll find me and my wife at the Oct. 6 Ron Santo Walk to Cure Diabetes Libertyville site. Walking with JDRF has helped us take some of the power away from this disease and put millions of people on the path to a cure.

Visit to learn more about T1D and the Ron Santo Walk.

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