Back to Grey Ribbon Letter from Ron Brenners
Dear Readers of children with DIABETES,

As a longtime visitor of this web site, I'd like to call your attention to something that is now occurring. While I was reading the monthly magazine Diabetes Interview, I came upon an article about a group of diabetics (mostly on the CompuServe Forum) that are trying to raise awareness of diabetes through a vehicle called The Gray Ribbon Campaign. As I read this article, I thought that here was an idea that I could embrace and would allow me to do something for my son (Ben, age 11) who has had diabetes since age four. The Gray Ribbon Campaign is being carried out by diabetics, their loved ones and their caregivers, as a method of raising the consciousness of the general public about diabetes. By informing as many people as possible about the disease, and letting our elected officials know that we need more funding for a CURE and PREVENTION of diabetes, we hope to bring about a quicker end to this disease. Also, as there are as many as eight million people in America today that may have diabetes and not know it, we hope to educate the public about the symptoms and consequences of diabetes. The "on-line diabetics" number, perhaps, 10,000+ members worldwide and exist on the Internet and various on-line forums as a loose-knit community.

Most of the readers of children with DIABETES know all too well what it is like to care for and live with this disease. As a group, though, diabetics seem to be too quiet about asking for help. The 1990's have been labeled as "the decade of the cure" and time is running out. WE MUST BE MORE VOCAL NOW, as it is more imperative for diabetics to try and secure a greater share of the dwindling public health dollar budget.

On March 11, 1997, Ben and I met privately with President Clinton's chief-of-staff, Erskine Bowles. Mr. Bowles has previously held a leadership position for The Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. The father of a diabetic child, Mr. Bowles knows first hand about the disease, the steps being taken in research about diabetes, and now, about our government's efforts to assist in helping to develop a CURE and PREVENTION for diabetes. Ben and I presented Mr. Bowles with a gray ribbon and a four-point agenda that we would like to see carried out:

  1. Look into the FDA's handling of approval of devices and medicines that are needed by diabetics - specifically the Diasensor 1000, the world's first noninvasive blood glucose measuring unit;

  2. Provide more federal funding for pure research into developing a CURE for, and PREVENTION of diabetes;

  3. Provide federal and state funding for uninsured children to attend at least an initial session of diabetes camp following their diagnosis; and,

  4. Support general awareness of diabetes and its complications and need for a CURE, by wearing a GRAY RIBBON - and declaring May 8, 1997 as National Gray Ribbon Campaign Day.

The Gray Ribbon Campaign is a purely grassroots effort that neither accepts nor solicits donations. We simply ask that you wear a gray ribbon, and when asked why, explain what it is about.

Why gray? Only through increased awareness of Diabetes, and funding of research for a CURE, can we hope to provide a silver lining to the gray cloud of diabetes.

I have written several letters to my local, state and federal officials stating the four points above, with a Gray Ribbon attached. To date, in only 2 1/2 weeks, I have already received word, that the Mayor and City Council of Plano, Texas will announce, via proclamation, that May 8, 1997 be declared Plano Gray Ribbon Campaign Day. Plano, Texas is a bedroom community of Dallas with a population of about 200,000. My State Senator, Florence Shapiro (R-TX) will provide a similar proclamation in the Texas Senate. Governor George Bush's office has also informed us that the State of Texas will provide either an announcement or proclamation . If every visitor to your WEB site would take similar steps and write letter to their mayor, city council, state and federal representatives, I know that we will make a major step forward in getting the recognition that we need in order to accomplish our goal --- A CURE FOR DIABETES.

In its international meeting in Athens, Greece, last week, the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation International (JDFI), embraced the concept of the Gray Ribbon. Under the leadership of Sandra Silvestri, a JDFI board member (and one of the driving forces behind the Gray Ribbon effort) a basket full of hand made ribbons were handed out and worn by attendees. Each ribbon was made by a volunteer and each is unique. Some ribbons have a red stone in the middle as a way of recognizing the multiple daily blood tests that a diabetic must perform each day in order to stay healthy and in good control.

Please help us publicize this great effort. If anyone needs more information, they may me write to me at

Thanks again for all of your superlative efforts on behalf of all diabetics.

Ron Brenners

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