TORONTO — The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation of Canada has received a $100,000 donation from Torontonians Irwin and Sheila Lanci, left.
Juvenile diabetes, now usually referred to as Type 1 diabetes, is an
autoimmune disease that occurs when the pancreas doesn’t produce
insulin, the hormone that removes glucose from the blood and sends it
to nearly all the cells in the body, enabling them to do their job.
While the disease usually begins in childhood, it sometimes hits those in their 20s or older.
Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, sometimes called adult onset diabetes, can begin at nearly any age, and occurs when the body does produce insulin but is unable to use it properly. There is also gestational diabetes, which occurs during pregnancy.
The Lancits’ first serious involvement with juvenile diabetes came after Irwin Lancit’s brother, Harvey, was diagnosed with the condition when he was 23. Because he did not take proper care of himself, Sheila Lancit admitted sadly, he suffered many complications, including blindness, having both legs amputated and needing to go on dialysis due to kidney failure.
He died 15 years ago at the age of 52.
Six months before Harvey Lancit died, Sheila and Irwin’s son, Matthew, then age 12, was also diagnosed with the illness. The family was terrified.
“But Matthew takes care of himself,” Sheila said. At 28, he is a filmmaker, a healthy one, who exercises, watches his diet and takes his insulin.
The family was always involved with the Jewish community, Sheila said. Harvey was a former national vice-president of B’nai Brith Canada, and she and her husband have been involved with the United Jewish Appeal, Mount Sinai Hospital and Associated Hebrew Schools of Toronto.
When they were first approached to take an interest in Type 1 diabetes, “my first reaction was to say no,” Sheila said.
But they realized that there is a real need for research – and that takes money.
The couple went to a gala fundraiser for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and that’s when they were inspired to announce their $100,000 donation.
The purpose of their gift, she said, is to advance research, knowledge and treatment.
“Basically, we want to prevent people from getting diabetes and the complications that arise from it.”
The Lancits and Sharon Anisman of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation of Canada note that so far, neither party has decided exactly what project the money should be directed toward.
The organization was founded in 1974 by parents of children with the disease who were desperate to find a cure. There are now chapters all across Canada. The parent organization, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International (JDRF), is the leading charitable funder and advocate for Type 1 diabetes research worldwide, according to a media release.
In 2006, the release says, JDRF provided $6.3 million for diabetes research in Canada alone. Research funded by the organization includes such therapies as restoring autoimmunity, preventing and reversing complications and achieving metabolic control.
For more information about JDRF Canada, call 905-944-8700, 1-877-287-3533, or e-mail [email protected].