When Marissa Chavez, COO and engraving specialist at Dreamscape Technology LLC in Davenport, Iowa, was diagnosed with type one diabetes (T1D) at the age of 33, she felt a little upended. The autoimmune disease, in which insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas are mistakenly destroyed by the body’s immune system, can be diagnosed early in life as well as in adulthood. The disease requires a controlled lifestyle and a dependence on injected or pumped insulin. But it doesn’t have to be all negative.
Chavez has chosen the positive route, joining the fight against it instead of giving in to it. She first got involved with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) in 2017. According to its website, JDRF is leading the fight against T1D by funding research, advocating for policies that accelerate access to new therapies, and providing a support network for millions of people around the world impacted by T1D.
The organization hosts everything from fundraiser walks and bike rides to yearly galas. “Myself and our company have a walk team that walks every May in the local JDRF Walk for a Cure,” Chavez states. In 2017-2018, the team raised $3,800 for its walk donation. “We are continuously fundraising for our walk team donations.” In addition, Dreamscape has also participated in the Eastern Iowa yearly gala and has done other fundraising events such as trivia nights and golf tournaments.
You might notice that it isn’t just Chavez involved in fundraising endeavors — Dreamscape employees are also in on the effort. “We have one employee besides me that is also T1D,” she notes. “We are always encouraging our employees to help in the fundraising and walk team.”
The company, which offers laser engraving, media blasting, commercial and industrial coatings, and epoxy floorings, is currently only involved with JDRF, but Chavez states they are interested in helping with other charities or non-profits. For them, it’s personal. “We would eventually like to be able to fundraise for the American Heart Association as well as breast cancer, as these also have touched my family and friends,” she adds.
For now, knowing they’re making a difference in the T1D community is satisfying. “I was an adult trying to learn and adjust to the rollercoaster ride of diabetes,” states Chavez. “I cannot even imagine being a child and having to learn all the dos and don’ts and dealing with all the trial and errors, let alone being a parent with the constant worry for my child. I raise money for them, not myself.”
Chavez goes on to state that JDRF’s ability to cause change resonates with her. “JDRF helps in changing insurance policies,” she elaborates, calling to attention the battle to get insulin pumps covered for Medicare recipients. JDRF also helps raise awareness about living with the disease. “I would say the next step is to get all insurance companies, private and state, to acknowledge the benefits of the CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitor) and the long-term savings they would see due to better-controlled T1D resulting in less long term, more expensive side effects (amputations, vision problems, heart problems, etc.),” she continues.
It’s safe to say that Chavez will keep working with JDRF to continue the fight against T1D. “(My favorite part about working with JDRF is) knowing we are fighting for a better future for kids diagnosed with T1D and also seeing how resilient they are,” she finishes.