In 1983 when Debbie Newman and her husband Dr. Stephen Newman first received then five year old daughter Emile’s type one diabetes (T1D) diagnosis, they were frightened but also familiar with the lifestyle. “T1D care has changed dramatically since I watched my father sterilize his glass syringes by boiling them in a pot on the stove 60 years ago,” says Debbie Newman.”There is so much more today to make T1D easier to live with, but there is still so much more to be done. T1D is constant worrying. My mother was a low carb watchdog and cooked accordingly!” says Debbie. Still, it was a shock and a frightening experience when Emile was struck with the same disease. She and her husband have been involved with JDRF ever since.
When Debbie found the Greater Dallas Chapter, she stepped right in to help make a difference. Most recently in 2009, she served as the Dream Gala co-chair, and in 2013 Debbie and Stephen served as the Fund A Cure chairs for the Dream Gala. Taking on this role with gusto, Debbie became what one might describe as a Fund A Cure superstar. “Debbie has come into the office to write countless handwritten thank you letters to Fund A Cure donors. She and Steve are true encouragers of the JDRF staff as well as volunteers,” says Carmen Holmes, Executive Director of the Greater Dallas Chapter. “Debbie is very special. She consistently supports JDRF in word and action.” Debbie made numerous phone calls to personally invite guests to the Fund A Cure research update prior to the Gala. The event motivated people to donate more. Under her leadership, Fund A Cure raised over $400,000. In addition, she has spent many hours working and supporting the staff in the areas of Major Gifts and Auctions. “I hope to inspire others to give of their time and resources. The staff can’t do it alone,” she says.
The inspiration for Debbie’s tireless volunteer work continues to be Emilie. “My daughter is amazing,” she beams. “Not only has she lived with T1D for 31 years, but she is a full-time working Mom with a husband and two precious children: Naomi, age eight and Henry, age three.” Emilie encouraged Debbie to attend Government Day with her in March 2014. They met with Lindsay Pitts, Legislative Director, in the office of Rep. Pete Sessions, TX (pictured). “Government Day was amazing!” says Debbie. “The enthusiasm of the other delegates was so inspiring…not to mention the updates on research which needs continued funding from the government. We were there to ask for that funding. Most of all, I was so proud to walk the halls of Congress and represent JDRF with Emilie.”
A cure is the ultimate goal for Debbie. “It would mean no more worrying about my T1D child or any grandchildren getting this disease. It would also give a deeper meaning to the time and resources all of us in the JDRF family have contributed.”
Debbie, together with Stephen who now serves on the International Board of Directors, plans to keep volunteering for JDRF until that day comes. “JDRF has been a major force in the improvements to T1D care and we are in the forefront of finding the ultimate prevention and cure of this disease. We should all be very proud of what we do every day,” she says. “We will really be proud when the disease is eliminated.”