Volunteer spotlight: Linda Wright

Linda Wright

A Teacher, a Salesperson, and a Chef Walks Into JDRF.…

Linda Wright is one well-rounded individual. Seriously, what hasn’t she done? She has been a teacher, a salesperson and manager in a marketing company, and now a chef and the owner of her own catering business. She says, “Volunteering with JDRF incorporates all those professions.”

Everyone who knows Linda agrees that she is quite adept at educating people about type 1 diabetes (T1D). She explains T1D to people who are unfamiliar with the disease and shares her experiences with other parents in her chapter’s support group. Her teaching background also helps her in her role as Auction Committee chair for the chapter’s annual Promise Ball, as she explains to potential donors why their support is needed. Jon Muskrat, executive director of the North Central CT/Western MA Chapter says, “Linda is an incredibly hard-working and dedicated volunteer who has taken our Gala auction to new heights. We are so grateful for the time, energy, and effort she puts into it. She is an inspiration to the entire committee!”

Linda appreciates the dedication of her fellow committee members, takes time to say “thank you,” and ensures that every member is an important part of the process. Committee members enjoy an additional perk. Linda explains, “Since I am a chef, I often bring lunch and cookies to the Auction Committee meetings.” Linda and her husband also run the Rallye for a Cure, which invites classic– and vintage–sports car drivers to drive their cars in a scavenger-hunt event. It raised $7,000 in its first year. Linda and Bill are planning the second annual Rallye for June 2014.

Linda became involved with JDRF when her son, Jack, was diagnosed with T1D at age 11 in 2009. With the attitude of not letting T1D stand in her family’s way, Linda decided to educate herself and assure Jack that he could continue all his activities. On the evening of his diagnosis, Jack was needed as the only French-horn player at a school concert. When the hospital’s child-life specialist assured Jack that life would continue the same as always, Linda took her aside and gave her a sales pitch: “If you want Jack to believe that what you are saying is true, then we need to find some way to get him to the concert tonight.” The nurse agreed, gave them a quick education on how to administer insulin, and told them to return first thing in the morning for more training.

Driven as a mother and as an advocate, Linda has raised Jack to be a true voice for people who live with T1D. Jack has participated in the Artificial Pancreas Project and is an active youth ambassador. At 16, he is both knowledgeable and independent and maintains his focus on finding a cure. Linda recalls a recent white-water rafting trip when Jack had to check his blood sugar between the rapids. Linda says, “Jack looked at me wistfully and asked, ‘Can’t I just pretend I don’t have diabetes for one day?’ It is a question that will remain etched in my mind forever, or at least until we find a cure.” Linda will continue to work tirelessly for JDRF until that day comes.