When the grandson of Ruthi and Gov. Brendan Byrne was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, the entire family got involved with the management of the disease.
“We’re a close family and what happens to one of us, happens to all of us,” said Ruthi Byrne. “There were 15 family members in the doctors’ office at that first meeting to learn what to do.”
Before they knew it, the Byrnes became experts on what their grandson Danny Zinn can and cannot eat, when he should eat and when he needs insulin. They also became active in the Northern New Jersey and Rockland County Chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation.
This year, the Byrnes are being honored as the JDRF 2012 Family of the Year and will be recognized at the JDRF’s 10th Annual Dream Gala, held each year to raise money for Type 1 diabetes research.
“Ruthi and I are honored to be recognized as the Family of the Year by the Northern NJ & Rockland County Chapter of JDRF,” said Gov. Byrne, who served as New Jersey’s governor from 1974 to 1982 and now lives in Short Hills. “We are proud to do our part to help our grandson Danny and others with this tough disease.”
The gala is a major fundraiser for the foundation, and the Byrnes play a big role in fundraising because research is so crucial to finding a cure.
“It’s a frustrating disease because there’s been a lot of research but no cure,” Ruthi Byrne said. “We want to find a cure.”
The Byrne family – especially Danny and his parents – have learned how to cope with the disease and how to manage it 24-7, Ruthi Byrne said.
“He’s very good at it and knowing what he's supposed to do,” she said. “He’d rather not have it but he manages really well.”
The gala, which will be held March 17 in Mahwah, NJ, recognizes community members who help further the organization’s mission of finding a cure. In addition to the Byrnes, this year the chapter will honor Linda Tharby, president of Diabetes care at BD & Co. (a global medical technology company), as the 2012 Woman of the Year.
The Northern NJ & Rockland County Chapter will honor the memory of Daniel Zolotorofe, a member of the chapter who passed away in November from complications of the disease.
Chapter officials say they hope to surpass last year’s fundraising total of nearly $500,000 as attendees eat, drink and dance the night away to the hits of the ‘70s at the so-called "Hustle to the Cure" event. Silent and live auctions will be held to raise additional funds for the chapter.
Since its founding in 1970, JDRF has awarded more than $1.6 billion to diabetes research. Past JDRF efforts have helped to significantly advance the care of people with this disease, and have expanded the critical scientific understanding of Type 1 diabetes.
Those interested in attending the Gala or would like more information contact JDRF Chapter office at (201) 568-4838 or visit the chapter's website.