Buying a dozen roses is a traditional way many people say "I love you" for Valentine's Day. But what if that token of affection also meant saving the life of a child with diabetes?

For the first time this year, it does! All you have to do is be a part of a new grassroots effort called Spare a Rose, Save a Child.

A small group of our friends in the Diabetes Online Community (DOC) came up with an idea to use social media for a bigger "social good" and help make a difference, and it's caught on like wildfire not only in the DOC but also across broader health communities on and offline.

The idea is simple: instead of buying the typical "dozen roses" that's so popular on Valentine's Day, you buy 11 (which is still romantic, we promise!). Then, you donate the value of that single extra flower to help a child with diabetes in the developing world. Your loved one still gets flowers, and you both show some love to someone who needs it.

Seriously, it's THAT easy!

Of course, there's nothing that says you can't donate more than just the cost of a rose! That's just a starting point.

What's the value of a rose, by the way? Well, it varies depending on where you live and the type of store you're buying from, and it costs a little more right now due to V-Day inflation, but generally it costs anywhere from $2-$7.

Your donation goes to the International Diabetes Federation's Life For A Child program, which processes contributions and sends them to established diabetes centers for ongoing clinical care and diabetes education these children need to stay alive.

The cost of a single rose is more than enough to make a difference, IDF reports. Just $1 a day provides a child with:

  • regular insulin
  • quality blood glucose monitoring equipment (meter, strips, lancets)
  • essential clinical care
  • up-to-date diabetes education materials
  • specialized diabetes training for medical staff

So really, for the cost of only one rose, you're actually helping at least a few kids with diabetes!

This campaign began last Sunday and runs through Saturday, Feb. 16, and anyone -- diabetes or not -- can be a part of it, just by donating and promoting this campaign link.

On Twitter, the hashtag for this effort is #sparearose.

See, it's so very easy to be a part of this!

Seeding an Idea

This idea didn't come from the IDF, and that's why it isn't referenced specifically on the Life for a Child site. Rather, it's the product of a brainstorming meeting of a small group of D-Advocates who met in Boston about two weeks ago -- Kelly Close and Adam Brown of diaTribe and Close Concerns, Manny Hernandez of the Diabetes Hands Foundation, D-Dad Bennet Dunlap of YDMV, Kerri Sparling of Six Until Me, and Jeff Hitchcock of Children With Diabetes.

Johnson & Johnson brought the group together in Boston, but Kelly explained to us in a phone call earlier this week that the group had been talking for some time, as many of us have, about ways to use social media to help the bigger Diabetes Community offline. This idea came from those discussions, many of them happening organically through the years during down-time at conferences, Pharma-sponsored summits, and smaller local meetups.

This group considered many different ideas of groups to support, from those on Medicaid whose insurance coverage is limited or possibly others who don't have access to insurance as most of us in the developed world are lucky to have. But in the end, they settled on IDF's Life for a Child program, as it's pretty much universally accepted as a non-controversial cause that is so incredibly important.

Just to note: the American Diabetes Association is doing a flower-related effort of its own for Valentine's Day, using TrialPay as a way for flower-buyers to donate $18 of the total purchase price to the ADA.



We're very excited to see the grassroots Spare a Rose, Save a Child initiative blossom from within the DOC to benefit those in developing countries who need it most. It's easy to forget how good many of us in developed countries have it, while so many throughout the world suffer. It's outrageous that even today in 2013 -- more than nine decades after this life-sustaining medication first became available -- a diabetes diagnosis is basically a death sentence to many PWDs around the world because they don't have access to insulin.

"Those of us in this community know what it's like to be in the 500's for just a little bit and what it'd mean to not have any insulin, and that's a reality for some of the poorest of the poor who can't access it," Kelly said, echoing the significance of why this program was chosen.

An email announcement went out to the 100+ members of the Diabetes Advocates group late Friday, and during the first few days more than four dozen fellow D-bloggers (including us!) had either written about this campaign or helped to spread the word. There are even contests happening, where #sparearose donors can win a knit item or pair of sparkly earrings for Blue Fridays!

On Tuesday afternoon, a press release went out on the wire and got picked up by multiple newspapers, media sites and specialty publications across the world -- meaning even more folks will know and hopefully get involved!

As yet, there are no corporate sponsors, as companies might not have been able to get approval and sign on so quickly. But we've heard that some fellow D-Advocates took this into their workplaces and set up "break-room" campaigns to help get co-workers to participate and even help spread the word even further.

Fellow D-blogger Chris Stocker in southern Florida is running a support campaign through his online marketing company CSI Marketing Solutions; he' donating 5% of all company proceeds to Life for a Child, and an additional 5% to anyone who sends a referral his way. Awesome support, Chris!

Kelly says there's talk of how this program can be expanded for the future, beyond just Valentine's Day, to other times of the year and possibly with company involvement, Google Plus or video campaigns, or more workplace initiatives.

"This has so much potential," Kelly says. "This is a perfect way to also reinforce how influential the DOC and social media can be, since some are still dismissive and skeptical about how much impact we can have on people's health and the greater good."

Let's show 'em what we got!

Disclaimer: Content created by the Diabetes Mine team. For more details click here.


This content is created for Diabetes Mine, a consumer health blog focused on the diabetes community. The content is not medically reviewed and doesn't adhere to Healthline's editorial guidelines. For more information about Healthline's partnership with Diabetes Mine, please click here.