Gary Hall, Jr.
Gary Hall, Jr. has 10 Olympic medals in swimming—most of them won after his diagnosis of type 1 diabetes (T1D) in March 1999 at age 24. He is a member of the Olympic Hall of Fame and will be inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame on May 11, 2013. During his career Gary set several world and American swimming records in freestyle and relay events. He retired from competitive swimming in 2008, dedicating his life to advocacy and work to benefit those living with T1D. He continues to use swimming and athletics as a tool to managing a healthy and balanced lifestyle, and has participated in the Cohasset Triathlon to benefit JDRF since 2009.
Gary credits support from the diabetes community not only with enabling him to return to swimming, but also with helping him win Olympic medals after his diagnosis. “At that point of diagnosis, my philosophy on life, and my career path, changed drastically. The appreciation that I feel to the T1D community for their help in not just getting me through a rough time, but also sustaining me as I was on top of the awards block at the Olympic games—this is powerful stuff,” he says. “So until there is a cure for this disease, being involved in this community is most important to me.”
In his leadership role with JDRF, Gary serves on the Government Relations Committee, is a Celebrity Advocate and spokesman, is a motivational speaker for JDRF Chapters around the country, and has testified before the U.S. Senate on behalf of JDRF and increased funding for T1D research. His presence at JDRF’s events such as Children’s Congress, in conjunction with his inspirational remarks, has encouraged hundreds of children with T1D to follow their own dreams.
Gary acknowledges that he has helped change the world for people with T1D, but shares the credit with other athletes who also broke down barriers by achieving what was previously thought impossible, like Will Cross, who has had T1D since he was 9. “I see that same effect with any major accomplishment with diabetes in any sport. When someone like Will Cross successfully climbs to the top of Mt. Everest, these barriers come crashing down, and you see a ripple effect that grows over the years,” he notes. “There are now so many more role models with T1D who have accomplished incredible things, in all sports. To think I played some small part in that, that’s humbling to acknowledge.”
Gary is currently an active healthcare consultant providing board support, strategic alliance, marketing and public relations strategy, advocacy, awareness, outreach, planning and implementation. He serves on the Sanford International Children’s Board, Edith Sanford Breast Cancer Foundation, National Youth Sports Health & Safety Institute Leadership Board, University of Arizona Department of Surgery Advisory Board, and the International Diabetes Federation Blue Circle Champion.
JDRF will honor Gary at the 31st Annual Boston Gala on Saturday, May 18, 2013.