According to the authorities, the annual World Diabetes Day celebration on November 14 got started way back in 1991. But of course nobody heard much about it until that history-making UN resolution was signed, recognizing the urgency of diabetes and declaring World Diabetes Day an official United Nations Day, to be observed every year beginning in 2007. That was when IDF kicked off the global Monument Challenge, encouraging cities around the world to illuminate their most famous monuments in diabetes-awareness blue.
It's been an uphill battle here in the U.S., starting with even recognizing Blue as "our color"... As you all probably know, we here at the 'Mine have launched our own campaign gathering signatures in support of the Blue Circle as diabetes' own version of the "pink ribbon." Sign here if you're interested in speaking out on that.
Meanwhile, today is World Diabetes Day (!), and we *finally* have big plans in my hometown of San Francisco, thanks to Kelly Close, Manny Hernandez, the SF Bay Chapter of JDRF and a bunch of other good folks who know how to organize a cool shindig. I'm so excited for the hula-hooping flash mob Guinness Book of World Records activity tonight. Not kidding! My girls are painting themselves up in sparkly blue nail polish as I write this.
It's the 5th anniversary of trying to get the ball rolling on WDD in the U.S., and Allison and I thought it would be fun to have a look back at its humble beginnings, as we witnessed them.
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There were no official activities in this country yet. But we wrote a post about WDD. There were comments. We were pleased ;)
Amy: We lit up San Francisco's Coit Tower, which is isolated up on a hill. Manny, Kelly, a few folks from the local ADA chapter and I toasted with champagne, and then went home.
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Allison: I was lucky enough to participate in one of the very first official World Diabetes Day celebration events in NYC. The International Diabetes Federation and Novo Nordisk partnered held a rally at the Rose Garden at the UN, where we used blue UN umbrellas were used to form a blue circle. Afterward, we marched with our blue umbrellas to Guastavino's, where speakers, including two youth ambassadors from Ecuador and South Africa, shared the importance of World Diabetes Day and raising awareness about the global impact of diabetes. Sadly, this was the one and only major World Diabetes Day event to be held in New York City...
Amy: We lit up San Francisco City Hall. We shouted at passers-by, but there wasn't much foot traffic. So a small group of us sort of stood around staring at the building.
Allison: In New York City, there was nothing going on. I don't even have a record of what I was doing that day!
Amy: We lit up San Francisco's Ferry Building. We had more people! They brought signs, placards, and blue candles. I got to meet Meri Schumacher and some great guys from InsulinDependence. We talked about "going bigger" for WDD.
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Allison: I threw my own World Diabetes Day party! I rented a conference room at a non-diabetes related non-profit, because none of the diabetes organizations could support the event because WDD was a Saturday. Tina brought the most beautiful birthday cake for Dr. Frederick Banting (Did you know, btw, that the date Nov. 14 was chosen because it is the birthday of Frederick Banting, co-discoverer and most famous "father of insulin" — a man to whom we are all indebted?). I got a bit of flack for having pizza and cake at a diabetes party, but everyone who came had fun!
Amy: We lit up the Metreon building in blue. Across the street in Yerba Buena Center, there was a small fair with booths. A fair! With information! And food! Bodybuilder Doug Burns spoke to the modest crowd. Yes, we had a crowd! Some people went bowling together at the Center.
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Allison: The New York Historical Society hosted an exhibit on the discovery of insulin, based on the book Breakthrough. I arranged for a tour with the director of the society. It was a great opportunity to see some of the original letters from the first patients to receive insulin, and also to see photos from the first insulin production facility in Toronto.
WDD is going to bigger and better, all over the country, right?!
Do not forget to do the Big Blue Test today!
Happy World Diabetes Day everyone, and Happy 120th Birthday to Dr. Banting! Lots to celebrate today! We hope you have something great going blue in your town.