Check out this resume: Founder of Zip the Cure, JDRF Youth Ambassador, Walk to Cure Diabetes participant, Trial Net liaison, Promise to Remember Me Campaign advocate, JDRF Children’s Congress delegate, and regular public speaker on living with type 1 diabetes (T1D). It’s hard to believe that someone could offer so much before the age of 19. But this is no ordinary young woman. This is Monica Oxenreiter from our Western Pennsylvania Chapter.
Monica was diagnosed with T1D at the age of 13 months. Three years later, her older brother, John, was diagnosed at the age of eight. Life with T1D is all Monica has ever known, but she does not let the disease define her. Instead, she is constantly looking for ways to inspire others and contribute to her community. Nothing holds Monica back.
When Monica and her brother served as delegates for the JDRF Children’s Congress in 2005, they met other kids from across the country who were extremely involved with fundraising and spreading T1D awareness in their local areas. Monica says, “We wanted to find a way to connect all of the efforts, which is why we came up with the idea for Zip the Cure.” Zip the Cure is now a unique online fundraising campaign that allows donors to sponsor a zip code and name that zip code in honor of someone special. It launched on November, 14, 2009—World Diabetes Day—and has been a success ever since.
Most people would have felt they had done their part by then. But not Monica. She continues to serve as a JDRF Youth Ambassador and, due to her energy and spirit, has helped her chapter recruit other young volunteers. “One of the many things I respect about Monica is that her focus on funding research is not just about herself—it’s also about her brother and all those who live with type 1 diabetes,” says Carol Yannuzzi, executive director of the Western Pennsylvania Chapter. “She is a special, well-spoken representative of JDRF, with a heart for the cure.”
Monica has a gift for rallying others to join the JDRF mission. “Each person can make a difference. If we work together, we can have a much larger impact and bring JDRF closer to a cure,” she says. Monica also understands the importance of raising awareness about T1D. “Insulin is not a cure. The threat of complications is still extremely dangerous to everyone with diabetes, regardless of how good his or her control may be,” Monica adds. “Type 1 diabetes may represent a small number of the total diabetes community, but it is essential to build awareness of the disease and its symptoms, as well as what JDRF is doing to bring us closer to better treatments and a cure .”
Monica is now a sophomore in the premedical program at Boston College, where she is majoring in biochemistry with hopes to one day become a pediatrician. But no matter where life takes her, she says, “I have always been, and will continue to be, an ambassador for JDRF and people with type 1 diabetes.”