We had a sense this was coming for a while, but now it's official: the Diabetes Exercise & Sports Association (DESA) is merging with Insulindependence (IN) to become what they say is North America's largest nonprofit public benefit organization focused on diabetes and exercise.
A merger announced Monday means DESA will be no more, and from now on all the programs will operate completely under the Insulindependence name and corporate structure, based in San Diego. Some DESA programs, taglines and publications may be used in the future by Insulindependence. The two have operated independently since 2005 to provide exercise-related resources for people with diabetes (PWDs), and they have a combined membership of 3,000.
"This is a landmark achievement for everyone in diabetes," Peter Nerothin, Founder and President of Insulindependence, states in the news release. "DESA's longstanding history is a perfect match for Insulindependence's developing program infrastructure. We've been humbled by DESA's contributions to diabetes over the past 27 years, and will be honored to carry the torch forward by continuing to develop new standards in diabetes management."
Nerothin founded IN in 2005 after attending a DESA conference, where he was inspired by the idea of leading experiential diabetes education expeditions for type 1 youth.
A grant that year paid for a group of adolescents from around the world to take an adventure hiking expedition in the Andes Mountains of Peru. The organization was then incorporated in Minnesota has been growing in size and reach since. (See our past interview with Nerothin regarding the group's online community here.)
Paula Harper, a nurse and marathon runner diagnosed with type 1 in 1974, founded DESA in 1985 to help find answers about how exercise affects diabetes and to educate the public about the benefits of exercise for those living with diabetes. Originally named the International Diabetic Athletics Association, the name changed in 2000 to expand the association's reach beyond athletes to "ordinary PWDs" interested in being active.
About the merger, Harper is quoted in the news release as saying, "We at DESA are thrilled and looking forward to working into the Insulindependence story and becoming part of this great organization."
Insulindependence is currently represented in 20 chapter cities, where volunteers are trained to lead cost-free community fitness events. They'll apparently be working to increase that number to more than 30 chapter cities in 2012. In addition to providing local chapter gatherings, Insulindependence will continue to offer regional and national events, youth mentor programs, scholarship awards for youth and transitioning teens, online resources, and volunteer training.
** Dec. 2, 2014 UPDATE:**
We are very sorry to hear the news that Insulindependence (IN) will be closing its doors and dissolving. All we can say is thanks to Peter Nerothin and all those who've done so much for our Diabetes Community through the years.