Mothers plan for March’s Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Gala

Mary Rickman and her husband Jay are this year’s recipients of the Living and Giving Award.

By Karamie Sullivan

There are three Lexington women who are passionate about funding for type one diabetes research. And they are doing everything they can to help find a cure for this autoimmune disease. These women are: Mary Rickman, Amber Bland, and Beth McCrary.

Each of them are involved in the JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) Palmetto Chapter, which is part of the leading global nonprofit organization that helps fund this type of diabetes research. The organization will be holding its 21st annual Hope Gala on March 24 at Spirit Communications Park. Rickman, Bland, and McCrary are getting the word out about the event, and are looking to accommodate 300 attendees at this year’s gala.

Rickman and her husband Jay are this year’s recipients of the Living and Giving Award at the event, for their help raising awareness and funds to advance the research for T1-D over the past 13 years.

Their efforts began after their grandson was diagnosed with type one diabetes when he was just six months old.

We need as much help as we can get to find a cure,” said Rickman, who is a well known member of the community, having founded AMCOL Systems, and Columbia’s Greek Festival.

JDRF Development Coordinator Beth McCrary has a daughter with T1-D, and believes she and the other JDRF members are carrying on the mission of the organization’s founders.

It was 1970, and two mothers founded JDRF after their sons were diagnosed that year,” she said. “Back then there were no insulin pumps, and the doctors told them we need to fund research, so the mothers said if you need money, we’ll get you money.”

According to McCrary, the founders were able to raise $10,000 for T1-D research in the first year. She considers herself to still have that same mindset as these mothers back in 1944.

My official title is the development coordinator but really I am a mom on a mission. We are all moms continuing that mission,” she said.

Amber Bland is the gala’s chairwoman, and like McCrary and Rickman, also has a connection to T1-D. Her daughter was diagnosed four years ago.

A lot of people don’t know that there has been a 21 percent increase of children in the country who now have T1-D,” she said. “We want to know, why is that?”

Bland stressed that the symptoms for this form of diabetes can be easily missed, or thought to be symptoms of the flu. However, she said her daughter’s diagnosis was caught because she was adamant that the doctors test her for it.

All it takes is one finger prick to check for it, and they came out and told me that my suspicions were correct,” she said.

The funds received at the March gala will be going toward continual research for T1-D. This year’s theme is “Field of Dreams,” with it being at Spirit Communications Park.

It’s very fitting for this year, but it’s very appropriate for us too because it’s literally what we dream about,” said McCrary.

The gala begins with a silent auction and cockail hour, followed by a formal dinner upstairs. After the main event, there will be an after party with music.

There will be a few surprises during the night, but of course we can’t give everything away,” the gala planners said. Individual tickets are $150, and table sponsorships are available. For

more information and details on the event, go to

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