A year ago the Ice Bucket Challenge held the attention of the world, and prompted a group of d-mom friends to ask: “Where is our challenge? Our attention?”
But instead of creating a new diabetes awareness campaign, the women, all longtime moms of children living with type 1 diabetes, decided it was time to show the diabetes community what they knew: that many diabetes awareness and funding campaigns and programs already exist. That’s how Project Blue November (PBN) was born.
“It just did not seem like a majority of people in the diabetes community were aware of how much already goes on,” PBN cofounder Michelle Weisenberg explained. “The idea of bringing awareness to every single campaign was overwhelming. But to make people aware of one page, one spot? That we could do.”
“We’ve become what we envisioned: a trusted, well-known ‘clearinghouse’ for all that is diabetes related,” said cofounder Eloise Lamons. On any given day, PBN shares research updates, inspirational stories and fundraising campaigns via the website, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
“It’s not unusual for us to share something and see it go out to over a half a million people,” Weisenberg said.
What makes it work? All friends bonded by diabetes, PBN’s cofounders realized their group included someone with medical experience, a social media pro, a marketing executive, a survey expert and a fundraising guru. “We wanted a place where people knew if something was posted, it was worth reading,” Lamons said.
“Advocacy can take many different forms and we want to help people find their own path toward it,” cofounder Robin Cacopardo explained. “Some people don’t even know where to start when it comes to being an advocate. Our goal is to inspire them, then provide them with the right tools … to empower all in the DOC to use their gifts to advocate and educate.”
The International Diabetes Federation’s Pin a Personality was the first major campaign that Project Blue November helped to promote. PBN followers pinned over 200 celebrities in the diabetes community, including Mel Brooks, Mick Fleetwood, Andrew Zimmern and Danny Trejo, whose pin photo was shared thousands of times. The campaign grew so popular that IDF ran out of pins to share.
Advocating 365 days a year
PBN shares research updates, teen topics, advocacy tips and humor every week. They host monthly T-shirt sales, with proceeds going to programs such as the Diabetes Scholars Foundation, JDRF, A Sweet Life and the Diabetes Hands Foundation.
“We started out as a place for people to find diabetes-related campaigns but have become a place to inspire people to take action,” Weisenberg said. “I think the secret is in something all of us who created this page already share: a positive outlook. People want to be positive, take action and make a difference. Project Blue November is proof of that.”
Moira McCarthy is an acclaimed writer, author, and public speaker who has shared her story – and lessons – on raising a child living with type 1 diabetes in the media, through books and on her popular blog, despitediabetes.com. McCarthy has appeared on CNN Live, Good Morning America and Fox News. She was recently recognized as the JDRF International Volunteer of the Year. Her six books include the top-selling The Everything Parent’s Guide to Children with Juvenile Diabetes and her latest Raising Teens with Diabetes: A Survival Guide for Parents. McCarthy is a paid contributor for The DX. All opinions contained in this article reflect those of the contributor, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies, or affiliates.
© 2015 The DX: The Diabetes Experience