Pella Employees Continue Fight Against Diabetes

July 25, 2012

Nearly a decade ago, the team members of Pella Windows & Doors began actively raising money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation to help find a cure for the autoimmune disease.

During the past year, Pella employees across the U.S. and Canada raised $107,777. Add that to its annual fundraising since 2003, and personnel at the window and door manufacturer have raised $2,083,411 for the non-profit JDRF to help support type 1 diabetes research, officials report.

“Those who live with type 1 diabetes typically take insulin every day just to survive. We know that insulin is not a cure, and that’s why Pella is dedicated to raising money for JDRF to help fund essential research,” says Kathy Krafka Harkema, Pella spokeswoman. Having donated a kidney to free her mother from dialysis when her mother’s kidneys failed from type 1 diabetes, she adds, “Pella team members proudly raise money for JDRF to make life easier for those with type 1 diabetes and those who care for them.”

Krafka Harkema is one of many Pella employees with a personal connection to type 1 diabetes. Jim Thomas, director of information technology operations at Pella, has a daughter with type 1 diabetes. Thomas is now president-elect of the Greater Iowa JDRF chapter board of directors.

“Reality sets in very quickly once a loved one is diagnosed with diabetes,” he says.

Thomas credits JDRF for its commitment to funding diabetes research. In the more than 40 years the organization has been raising money, type 1 diabetes has become much easier for people to deal with, monitor and control, he notes.

“As a parent, you are clearly reminded every day of very real impacts and concerns from this disease. It’s a constant battle wanting to understand and not be overprotective,” Thomas says. “My daughter is 19 years old and does a great job taking responsibility for her health. She understands what it means to her for the long term.”

More than 80 percent of JDRF donations fund research and research-related education advances in every stage of type 1 diabetes, from prevention to treatment to cure, reports Mary Hunter, executive director of JDRF Greater Iowa. At the Greater Iowa Chapter, which contributes more than $2.1 million annually to diabetes research, the efficiencies are even higher than 80 percent.

“JDRF funds more type 1 diabetes research than any other charity, but there is more promising science out there than we can currently afford to fund,” Hunter adds. “Through the support we have from corporations like Pella Windows & and Doors we can deliver better treatments, and eventually a cure.”