Smith School Students Lend Their Classmate a “Hand”

First-grader Leo Gregory points to a Helping Hands poster at Tenafly NJ’s Smith School.

(May 2010) – Elementary-school students at The Smith School in Tenafly, NJ, recently stepped up to support their classmate, Leo Gregory, with a project that benefited the Diabetes Research Institute (DRI.)  Leo’s mother, Danielle Gregory, approached her son’s school with the idea of doing a fundraiser.  Danielle and her husband, Troy Gregory, are committed to finding a cure for diabetes, because Leo, age 7, has type 1 diabetes.  

Leo’s first-grade teacher, Lisa Krommenhoek, had the idea to trace Leo’s hand and have the students decorate the tracings. The resultant “Helping Hands” project involved students purchasing paper hands with donations of $1 to $10 to the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation, and then cutting, decorating, and hanging the hands on signs throughout the school. The Smith School Student Council did all the legwork (or “hand” work) to make the project a success.  Nearly $800 was raised for the cure-focused work of the Diabetes Research Institute.

Danielle said proudly, “Leo was so excited to have his friends and teachers raise money for his cause.  He loved walking down the hallways looking at all the colorful hands.  There were a few reasons why we used the hands. The first was that the kids were giving a hand to help diabetes, by giving money to research. The second was people who live with diabetes use their hands to test their blood.”

Danielle and Troy Gregory are very involved in the work of the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation.  The Gregorys twice served as Co-chairs of the annual Carnival for a Cure event, and Troy co-chairs the All in for a Cure poker tournament.  Both events raise money for the DRI.

Danielle Gregory would be thrilled to see this project replicated in schools throughout New Jersey and elsewhere.  Leo Gregory and his classmates deserve a great big hand for being so philanthropic at such a tender age (and having fun in the process!)

About the Diabetes Research Institute

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, call 1-800-321-3437 or visit


Media Contact:
Lauren Schreier   

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