On June 8th, the Diabetes Hands Foundation (DHF) announced the winding down of the organization, after having served the diabetes community for nearly 10 years. Beyond Type 1, a global non-profit organization focusing on education, advocacy, and a cure for Type 1 diabetes, has been selected to take over and continue the work of DHF’s diabetes forums, TuDiabetes and EsTuDiabetes.
The transition is likely to begin this week, with Mila Ferrer joining Beyond Type 1 from DHF. Ferrer will continue to serve as program director. As Beyond Type 1 is taking over only DHF’s forums, the transition means that the MasterLab, the Big Blue Test, and Diabetes Advocates programs will likely be discontinued.
It appears that funding was one of the reasons why DHF decided to fold, and we know all too well what a challenge it can be to maintain sustainable funding. A DiabetesMine article noted, “There have been rumblings about sponsorship and funding challenges for the non-profit for the past several years, especially after founder Manny Hernandez departed…”
According to the Beyond Type 1 press release, “The Diabetes Hands Foundation has been a pioneering force for the entire diabetes community since 2008, uniting efforts across Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, as well as across languages and backgrounds. While Diabetes Hands Foundation will shut down, the two communities that DHF runs – TuDiabetes.org (English) and EsTuDiabetes.org (Spanish) – are critical and must be maintained.”
Thom Sher, Beyond Type 1’s Chief Operations Officer, expressed the organization’s commitment to maintaining and continuing to provide the forums as a space to connect about diabetes. “Based on the userbase data that I reviewed, the communities appear to be vibrant, and the message boards are key resources for hundreds of thousands of people. These communities are strong, and we want to make them even stronger.”
We asked Beyond Type 1 how they plan to manage serving both the Type 1 and Type 2 communities, which have some similar needs but also face different challenges. Sher said, “Since day 1 of Beyond Type 1, we have had an attitude that T1D, T2, LADA, and other types are all stronger together. We intend to let the two communities run as they have run, with Mila and Mariana at the helm. These are not going to become [exclusively] Type 1 communities”.
“We are staying true to the founding principles of both communities,” he said. “It is critical that TuDiabetes and EsTuDiabetes are safe and impactful places for all people impacted by diabetes.”
Hearing the news about the transition, the response from the diabetes community has been a mix of sadness and excitement. Many are disappointed to see DHF close its doors, but pleased that there will be a smooth transition of the communities. Sher said, “DHF did amazing, ground-breaking, important work. At the same time, we’ve heard a huge amount of excitement that the communities will have resources and energy from Beyond Type 1 to continue their important value, and expand it.” At the American Diabetes Association’s conference in San Diego last week, diabetes advocates gathered to applaud Hernandez for all he’s done for the diabetes community.
Beyond Type 1 noted that the resources being provided to the Hispanic diabetes community are not good enough, and they have plans to develop more. We look forward to seeing how the two communities will fit into the wider work of Beyond Type 1.
We will see how this works out. I am hopeful it will be for the best.