Denim and Diamonds Gala raises money to cure Type 1 diabetes

Allen Wallace photos.

Sometimes it’s difficult or impossible for those who donate to a good cause to see the results of their generosity. That was not the case Saturday night at the JDRF Palmetto Chapter Hope Gala, where the progress in the fight against Type 1 diabetes was visible in the faces of many people in attendance.

Scott Bland, co-chair of the event, shared the story of his daughter Julia, a high school senior who once had to prick herself 10-15 times each day to check her blood glucose levels, in addition to injecting herself with insulin several times each day. Advances in fighting the disease have made her life simpler and less painful.

“She inhales insulin,” Bland said. “That’s real progress, and that’s where your donations make a difference.”

The gala at Segra Park (home of the Columbia Fireflies) served to celebrate the progress and those who continue the fight every day, as well as to raise both money and awareness.

“Type 1 diabetes affects 1 in 100 Americans and it’s on the rise,” said Amber Bland, co-chair of the event along with her husband Scott. “It doesn’t recognize age, gender, race, religion. It doesn’t care how much money you make. I think the biggest thing with Type 1 is so many people look at you and they don’t understand what you’re going through.”

“We want nothing more than to find a cure for our daughter Julia and the millions of others who are living with Type 1,” Amber Bland added.

The Hope Gala, which raised more than $300,000 in 2018, began with a reception and silent auction in the stadium concourse. Guests then moved upstairs to the club level for dinner and a live auction as well as a chance to hear from the Blands and others about the experience of living with Type 1.

It was a big night for the Blands as their daughter, Julia, joined Hannah McCrary and Shelby Raye as winners of the Fry-Picow Living and Leading Award. The award, named in honor of Elliott Fry and Brandon Picow, is given to young people who play a significant role in fighting Type 1 through volunteering and fundraising.

The Palmetto Chapter also presented the Living and Giving Award to ElizabethAnn Carroll, Susie Wimberly and Anita Wilson for their efforts in fundraising, volunteering and raising awareness.

Dessert and coffee were served on the concourse as Raye played guitar and sang and many of the guests took to the dance floor. One of the night’s final highlights was the announcement of Ryan Reedy as the winner of a three-quarter carat diamond valued at $5,500 and donated by Moseley’s Diamond Showcase.

More information about the ongoing efforts to cure Type 1 is available at

Categories: Arts & Entertainment, Columbia, Richland County