No one who has watched TV over the last 40 years does not appreciate the iconic status of Mary Tyler Moore. In the 1960's Mary Tyler Moore played the loving yet "spunky" wife in The Dick Van Dyke show carving out a new equality between husband and wives. Then in the 1970s she played "spunky" (see a trend?) executive producer Mary Richards in the MTM Show giving us a new model for how women can be in the work force, maintain their self and thrive.
While the characters she played made her well liked, she became beloved by fans because they sensed that in Mary Tyler Moore, there was something authentic and real that imbued every role. Uniquely, she had the capacity to see the world as it really was yet also, simultaneously, see the best parts of a person or a situation. This capacity probably most deeply imprinted on her audiences during the Mary Tyler Moore show (early 1970s) which is when this actress first learned she had diabetes. It was inspiring to know that this woman just did not cope with this disease but was thriving. The song from the series subtly celebrated this: "You're gonna make it after all" and the visuals showed an ebullient Mary throwing her hat in the air in act of carefree affirmation. This sentiment and song became a rallying call for anyone with life struggles (which was all of us) who learned to overcome them with grace, dignity and joy.
This is the Mary Tyler Moore that lives in the popular imagination. This is the Mary Tyler Moore that stood before the parents and kids and business people who all gathered one night this November at the Promise Ball in NYC in support of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). As Mary Tyler Moore spoke to parents like Mort and Ellen Silver, who helped start the Promise Ball 40 years ago, she acknowledged the courage of these parents when they made a promise to their children afflicted with this disease -- to find a cure by funding research. Over the years, this grassroots organization held Promise Balls all over the country to support the technological research of the JDRF and, one promise at a time, raised an astonishing $55 Million.
So it was at this year's Promise Ball held in NYC on November 13, hosted by Tom and Natasha Silver (Tom is the son of Mort and Ellen Silver), which I attended where I found myself asking; "How close is technology in fulfilling on the promise to find a cure?" As though reading my mind, Ms. Moore addressed the audience by affirming the optimism and fundamental determination that we can and will keep this promise -- no matter what, "Through these efforts, our message has reached millions of viewers" she declared.
And that set the stage for what came next. We heard from a leading researcher at JDRF, Dr. Aaron J. Kowalski, who explained the technological innovations around the artificial pancreas. While not yet a cure, it does provide what Dr. Kowalski called the ability for people to "walk away" from the disease; meaning it does not impinge on their lives as diabetes does today (see Mary Tyler Moore discussing the artificial pancreas on The View .
Then, next most amazingly, we learn that through special technology and training, dogs can be used as an early warning system to detect the faint odors that diabetics give off when they are in danger. Imagine what a relief it would be for a parent who can now sleep more peacefully knowing that if their child becomes at risk in the middle of the night - this medical dog can quite literally save their life. All these technological miracles were all the more amazing because they were made possible by the extraordinary efforts of ordinary "Judy Consumers"to find a cure by funding technological innovation research that can lead to a cure.
With people like Mary Tyler Moore and the Silvers -- we realize, "We're gonna make it after all" (cut to visual of "hat in air"). To learn more about the technological advances of the artificial pancreas, go to: http://www.artificialpancreasproject.com/