GBN senior’s foundation helps diabetics across the country
Updated: Nov 13, 2018
When 8-year-old Jared Kuper was diagnosed with diabetes in 2009, he had a choice: focus on navigating the complexities of the disease or use his situation to make the world a better place. He chose both.
Now, nearly a decade later, the Glenbrook North senior is founder and president of The Jared Kuper Diabetes Foundation, a not-for-profit that advocates for diabetics through financial and supportive services.
For Kuper, the choice was easy – and immediate.
“I was very into educating everybody,” Kuper said. “I wasn’t the kind of person who wanted to hide it. I never gave myself time to lay my head down and be upset about what was going on. I kind of just pushed forward and began advocating.”
Kuper was diagnosed after failing into a diabetic coma, and during his week-long recovery at the hospital, he read books about testing blood sugar and teaching others about the disease. The American Diabetes Association’s logo appeared on each one, and that’s all it took.
A few months later, in January of 2010, 9-year-old Kuper was nominated as a youth ambassador for the American Diabetes Association for Illinois and Northern Indiana. Every year since his diagnosis, he’s spoken with senators, including Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and representatives in Illinois and Washington D.C. to fight for increased funding, affordable healthcare, and insulin access and affordability.
He even helped pass an Illinois state law, Care of Students with Diabetes Act, ensuring students diagnosed with diabetes receive care at school and at school-sponsored activities.
But that wasn’t enough, so in 2017, Kuper formed his foundation to help diabetics secure insulin while trying to bring down the price. Once that battle is won, he hopes the organization will be able to fund research advances to search for a cure.
“I never want to hear that a college student is worried if they will be able to afford to pick up their insulin or supplies,” Kuper’s website says. “I don’t want to hear that a mother or father is trying to decide between buying their test strips, pump supplies or glucagon or paying their mortgage that month.
“My goal is to take the financial and emotional burden off of the person living with diabetes and their family so that they can live their healthiest life possible.”
At its core, The Jared Kuper Diabetes Foundation serves as a centralized dispensary for donated insulin and other medical supplies, but it provides other services, as well.
Kuper continues to advocate on behalf of diabetics across the country, and his foundation helps connect diabetics with mentors who can help them navigate the realities of the disease.
According to Kuper, his main goal is to cut out the unnecessary obstacles diabetics face, such as high insulin costs, because the disease is difficult enough to manage by itself.
“They need insulin about as much as they need air to breath,” said Laura Kuper, Jared’s mom. “Every minute and every second of the day, he needs it. EpiPens are important and everyone understands that, but insulin ... if he doesn’t have that literally every second of every minute of the day, he will be dead the next day.”
And with the approach of a new year comes another daunting obstacle: insurance deductibles.
“Our insurance out-of-pocket deductible that starts again in January is close to $7,000,” Laura Kuper said. “So we have to pay that right away before we can even get what Jared needs to survive. So you have families all over the country who will need a few months just to meet the deductible first. How do you help those people?”
With that in mind, the Kuper's are urging donors to send money, as opposed to medical supplies, so that the foundation can address the immediate challenge of helping families pay for their basic medical necessities.
For more information about The Jared Kuper Diabetes Foundation and ways to donate, visit jaredkuper.org.
WRITTEN BY CHRIS PULLAM, FREELANCE REPORTER. PUBLISHED IN THE NORTHBROOK TOWER ON NOVEMBER 5, 2018. READ THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE HERE.