December 2019 – It all started with a performance in her driveway, according to Dancing for Diabetes president and founder Elizabeth Forrest. Today, the nonprofit organization is a rising force in the diabetes community. Its reach extends well beyond its Orlando headquarters to people with type 1 diabetes throughout the country. And to date, Dancing for Diabetes has donated $145,000 to the cure-focused work of the Diabetes Research Institute.
“I truly believe that through our passion, energy and efforts, we can spread awareness and create impactful programs that support people with type 1 diabetes. But we really want our money to support a cure,” Elizabeth explained.
Diagnosed at age 10 in 1999, Elizabeth attended a performing arts school, where the students were tasked with putting on a dance show. That experience sparked an idea, and she organized her own performance the next year.
“I invited my neighbors, family and friends to our first fundraiser. My dance class performed in the driveway; we were grilling and face painting and had a great response. But I knew I wanted to make it bigger,” she said, and approached her middle school principal the following year for a new venue.
Coined Dancing for Diabetes (DFD), the event continued to outgrow its space, moving from the middle school to her high school to Orlando’s premier performing arts center, the Bob Carr Theater, where the Broadway-style show attracts 2,400 supporters each November. It features more than 300 talented and nationally recognized dancers who execute an inspiring showcase of tap,
ballet, hip hop, jazz, and more.
And while the show goes on, the DFD organization has expanded to provide year-round programming, including free dance classes for kids and teens with T1D, free education seminars in local schools, the annual “Touched by Type 1” conference, their “D Box” outreach program, which provides information and resources for those newly diagnosed, and a bowling fundraiser. Elizabeth credits the hundreds of volunteers, sponsors, and supporters for helping DFD climb to where it is today.
According to DRI Foundation Senior Vice President Tom Karlya, Elizabeth is simply a shining star.
“Elizabeth’s positive attitude toward helping all people with diabetes is infectious. She is truly one of the most remarkable women I’ve met on this journey,” said Tom, who has two children with type 1 and is known as DiabetesDad within the diabetes community.
A self-described “shy kid,” Elizabeth says diabetes helped her find a platform she felt strongly about.
“I used the cause and the mission as a shield, turning this horrible disease into something that could be inspiring. And it drives me
– every single day. Until there is a cure for diabetes, my team and I will continue to do our part.”