Flash Black is the Advocacy Team Chair for the JDRF East Tennessee Chapter. He became involved with JDRF when his son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) at the age of two. The local chapter of JDRF (then called the JDF) reached out while his son was still in the hospital, and Flash and his family attended the next JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes (now called One Walk). Now, about 20 years later, Flash has served on the Chapter Board, and been involved in major gifts, and now serves as the ATC for his chapter.
When asked what people can do to get involved with JDRF Advocacy, Flash had an inspiring response. Becoming a JDRF Advocate may take up to 30 or 40 minutes of an average person’s time per year. Between responding to action alerts with a simple email, phone call, or letter, any one person can make a tremendous difference in the world of furthering research for T1D. This advice is inspiring because the world of advocacy can seem intimidating, but it really is as simple as telling your story. Flash pointed out that more money comes from Advocacy through the Special Diabetes Program and NIH funding than from all of JDRF’s fundraising efforts. Advocacy is crucial to funding the research that makes the lives of people with T1D easier until a cure is found.
When asked about his favorite JDRF Advocacy event, Flash hardly hesitated. His answer: his first-ever Government Day! That year, he was asking his representatives to sign a letter promoting JDRF’s legislative priorities, and much to his surprise; his congressman called a staff member into the meeting and told them on the spot that he was going to get the letter signed right away. He was so supportive of JDRF, and told Flash that the impact that JDRF Advocates make as parents or people with personal connections to T1D means infinitely more than a story from a paid lobbyist ever would.
One of Flash’s proudest accomplishments has been signing up JDRF Advocates at One Walk events. With the help of his volunteers, he has been able to sign up hundreds of new advocates throughout his time, and thereby increase the power of JDRF’s ‘One Voice.’ However, this can also be his biggest challenge — Flash said that the biggest frustration has been entering the data on all of these new advocates!
When asked for a few words that describes his JDRF Advocacy experience, Flash chose passion, dedication, and hopeful as his top three descriptions. The passion in the room and the supportive environment from both the DC office and his fellow ATCs keeps Flash going when times get tough. Thank you, Flash, for all of your hard work and your dedication to JDRF Advocacy!