DRIF Receives $5 Million Gift from the Building and Construction Trades Department

Building and Construction Trades Department President Mark Ayers

Hollywood, FL (April 5, 2010) – The Diabetes Research Institute Foundation announced today that its largest contributor, the Building and Construction Trades Department (BCTD) of the AFL-CIO, has pledged $5 million to be awarded over five years.  This new gift brings the total dollars raised to more than $45 million over the last 25 years and firmly cements the unions’ commitment to help the Diabetes Research Institute (DRI) find a cure for diabetes.

According to Building and Construction Trades Department President Mark Ayers, the construction industry has been hit particularly hard by the decline in the economy, yet he attests that now is not the time to step away from the BCTD’s commitment. 

“This dreadful disease continues to have a profound impact on people’s lives in good times and in bad. Our members across the country subscribe to the belief that ‘tough times never last – but tough people do,’ and our commitment to finding a cure is enduring and unwavering,” said President Ayers.  “We’ve come too far to turn back now.”

This renewed support secures the BCTD’s continued participation in successful fundraising efforts, such as the annual Labor of Love golf tournament and the DAD’s Day (Dollars Against Diabetes) campaign, which have been the cornerstone of union fundraising efforts for decades.  Beyond financial support, the Institute’s state-of-the-art research facility was constructed by the hands – and hearts – of union men and women from across the United States.

 “This is a partnership matched by no other.  The Building and Construction Trades Department truly is the backbone of our organization.  They have raised millions of dollars to construct and equip the Diabetes Research Institute, and they continue to fund our cure-focused research initiatives,” stated Robert A. Pearlman, president and CEO of the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation.  “The unions have made so much of our progress possible, and this is just another indication that they’re going to see this job through to the end.”

Building and Construction Trades Department Secretary-Treasurer Sean McGarvey added, “The Diabetes Research Institute is the Building Trades Department’s charity for one reason.  It is a disease that touches the lives of a vast majority of our members and their families in some fashion.”

The reality is that more than 24 million children and adults in this country have diabetes, and more than 6 million people are already affected but have not yet been diagnosed.  Diabetes is a very serious, chronic condition that causes dangerously high blood sugar levels.  Left untreated, it can lead to blindness, heart disease, kidney failure, amputation of extremities, coma and death.

“Standing behind the work of this brilliant medical team is simply the right thing to do.  With the Department having been a supporter for so long, we feel that each step forward in finding a cure is something we can all share in.  What we give, we get back in knowing that we are a part of a winning team,” McGarvey concluded.

To learn more about the unions’ efforts to help the DRI find a cure for diabetes, visit  Project Type Zero is an initiative created on behalf of the BCTD to benefit the Diabetes Research Institute, and it has reinvigorated fundraising activity.  Its mission is to unify efforts for state and local labor councils and their generous sponsors around the country through increased communication and event support.  With a community four million members strong, they truly are the hope for a diabetes-free tomorrow.

The mission of the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation is to provide the Diabetes Research Institute with the funding necessary to cure diabetes now. The Diabetes Research Institute, a center of excellence at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, is a recognized world leader in cure-focused research. Since its inception in the early 1970s, the DRI has made significant contributions to the field of diabetes research, pioneering many of the techniques used in islet transplantation. The DRI is now building upon these achievements by bridging cell-based therapies with emerging technologies to restore insulin production. For the millions of families already affected by diabetes, the Diabetes Research Institute is the best hope for a cure.  For more information, visit or call 1-800-321-3437.


Media Contact:
Lauren Schreier

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