I have been a nurse practitioner for the past 19 years. I have been a volunteer for the American Diabetes Association (ADA) for the same amount of time. I remember my early days as a volunteer for the ADA. I was a health care professional, I helped people with their diabetes, and so that, therefore, was my contribution as a volunteer, as well. Fund-raising, after all, was for the other, non-health care professional, volunteers. Or so I thought.

I quickly learned otherwise. Fund-raising is at the heart of all the American Diabetes Association does and is what allows ADA to be the unique organization it is. Without fund-raising, we do not have the ability to support research, offer programs that bring information to both people with diabetes and health professionals, or support advocacy to protect people with diabetes from discrimination.

And so, I began to focus on fund-raising for the ADA. Over the past 19 years, I have had many roles and worn many hats for the Association. For the past 5 years, I have had the opportunity to be a member of the ADA Research Foundation Board of Directors. This is my second year as chair of the Research Foundation, a position I am truly honored to hold.

A unique role for a health care provider? Perhaps. But who better to understand and articulate to our donors the devastation that diabetes causes daily? I have learned that people give to the Research Foundation because we support outstanding peer-reviewed research and because we ask.

The ADA has always played a significant role in the development of the science to find a cure for diabetes and to help improve the lives of people with diabetes. The first research awards were granted in 1955. Since that time, the Association has invested more than $200 million and provided funding for more than 2,000 research projects, with a continuing emphasis on training new investigators and pursuing novel strategies for treating, preventing, and curing diabetes. For many of us, the Association has provided the means to complete critically important research and has educated us on new and innovative ways to manage diabetes. It is with these thoughts in mind that I am asking you to help bring this support to other researchers and clinicians who want to make a difference.

As many of you are aware, the ADA Research Foundation was established to provide a unified focus to research efforts and to give donors, who are passionate, a forum to express their interests. The Research Foundation’s goal is to raise an additional $50 million for research by 2003, and to reach that goal, we need everyone’s help.

Two years ago, the Healthcare Professional Gift Program was established after a conversation with Sam Abbate, MD. Dr. Abbate had just made a pledge to the Research Foundation and wished to use some of his honoraria income to support his pledge. He thought that for himself and perhaps other health care professionals who are dedicated to the ADA and people with diabetes, this would be a comfortable way to become a member of the Research Foundation’s Pinnacle Society. The Pinnacle Society is composed of donors who have given $10,000 or more to the Research Foundation.

And so the Healthcare Professional Gift Program was born. Through this program, health care professionals commit honoraria to fulfill, over time, their pledges of $10,000 to the Research Foundation. To date, more them 65 health care professionals have joined the program.

I would like to take this opportunity to ask each of you to join me in becoming a member of the Pinnacle Society by participating in the Healthcare Professional Gift Program and to express my sincere gratitude for all that you do for people with diabetes.

If you would like to learn more about the Healthcare Professional Gift Program, please feel free to call me at (313) 916-3906 or e-mail me at dkruger@diabetes.org. You can also contact Jennifer Henke, national manager for the Research Foundation, at (703) 549-1500, ext. 1434.

Davida F. Kruger, MSN, APRN, BC-ADM, is a certified nurse practitioner at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, Mich., and chair of the American Diabetes Association Research Foundation.