Breakthrough T1D BETA Society 20th Anniversary


Final Beta Society Logo Full Color“It was very barbaric, and it went that way for a good long while.”

John McDonough, the founding chair of the Breakthrough T1D BETA Society, remembers type 1 diabetes (T1D) care before the advances we take for granted today. When he was diagnosed at the age of 6 in the early 1940s, doctors told his mother he wouldn’t live past 15 or 20.

“There was no way to measure your blood sugar,” John says, “so they controlled it for me by diet and by exercise. The quality of insulin was a lot different, and the needles were huge. It was tough. My mother used to file those needles [for re-use].”

As an adult, John welcomed new treatments and therapies — many developed with the support of Breakthrough T1D. Improved insulin, home blood sugar testing and disposable needles made day-to-day T1D care a little easier. He never thought much about what could be until his daughter Allison was diagnosed with T1D when she was 24.

“That’s when I made up my mind to make a substantial commitment of time and money to Breakthrough T1D,” he says. “I’d love to see a cure, for my daughter.”

John had already built a successful business career, holding top-level management and board positions in a variety of industries, and founding and owning several businesses. With this background, John knew a reliable source of major funding would be crucial to accelerating T1D research. Developing a program to encourage supporters to include gifts to Breakthrough T1D in their estate plans was an obvious solution. “A parent or grandparents of a person with diabetes might not feel like they could make a significant outright gift, but they might be able to make an important contribution by including a gift in their will or naming Breakthrough T1D as a beneficiary of a portion of their insurance policy,” he says. “And you can estimate how much money will come in each year, once you have enough people in the planned giving pool.”

John and his wife, Marilyn, helped launch the BETA Society by establishing a Charitable Remainder Trust in 1995 to benefit Breakthrough T1D. The McDonough family has been extremely generous to Breakthrough T1D. John has also been a tireless volunteer at the Breakthrough T1D Illinois Chapter, and in 1999, just one year after he lost a leg due to T1D complications, John and Allison testified before Congress at Breakthrough T1D Children’s Congress in Washington, D.C.

Planned GivingIn the 20 years since the BETA Society was founded, Breakthrough T1D has received nearly $100 million from estate gifts, and Breakthrough T1D is aware of more than 2,000 supporters who currently have Breakthrough T1D included in their estate plans. The estimated value of these commitments is in excess of $200 million. For John, the exciting part of the BETA Society and Breakthrough T1D’s planned giving program is that “it’s not funding research in the future, after you die. That money is really accelerating important research being done today. We have eight grandchildren; fortunately none of them has diabetes yet, but that doesn’t mean they’ve escaped it. I think we should continue to make an ever-increasing effort and build that planned giving fund as high as we possibly can.”

Breakthrough T1D honors John and his entire family for their unswerving commitment to accelerating life-changing breakthroughs to cure, prevent and treat T1D and its complications. View a video featuring the McDonough family.

Learn more about the Breakthrough T1D BETA Society and how you can join John and the 2,000+ others who are leaving their legacy in the fight to turn type one into type none.