Ford Motor Company Windsor donations to diabetes research surpass $1M

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Windsor Ford Motor Company employees have raised more than $1 million for diabetes research which makes them life changers and hope givers.

Ford Motor Company and JDRF Canada announced that Ford’s Windsor operations raised a cumulative total of over $1 million for the JDRF TELUS Walk to Cure Diabetes. A recognition event was held Nov. 11, 2017, at the St. Clair Centre for the Arts. Ford employees pictured, front row, from left, Lori Balkwill, Mario Hindi, with Nicole Cozad, fundraising and community engagement manager with JDRF, Renee Browne and Denise Byrne, Back row, Paula Corp, Tim Little, Heather MacDonald and Tony Savoni.

Dan Janisse / Windsor Star

Windsor Ford Motor Company employees have raised more than $1 million for diabetes research which makes them life changers and hope givers. 

“It’s life changing for everybody who lives with Type 1 diabetes and I don’t know if they realize the impact of that,” Nicole Cozad, fundraising and community engagement manager for Central Canada JDRF, said Saturday as the Ford employees were treated to a VIP reception before the research foundation’s annual gala. 

“The Ford team has really taken the Type 1 diabetes community and taken them into their families. What they did 15 years ago, 16 years ago is changing my daughter’s life right now,” said Cozad whose 11-year-old daughter Cara was diagnosed with the disease at age three.

JDRF funds Type 1 diabetes research and was formerly called the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. The group dropped the name because most people with Type 1 diabetes are adults.

The reception before the group’s fundraising Crystal Ball Gala with 360 guests recognized the Ford Windsor site team and Unifor Locals 444 and 200 that have been supporting the JDRF Telus Walk to Cure Diabetes since 2001.

This year the employees raised $101,000 for the walk in June and surpassed the $1 million mark in fundraising. No other company in Windsor has raised that much for JDRF, Cozad said.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease and unlike Type 2 diabetes, Type one is not preventable. It is not linked to being overweight or other lifestyle choices. The cause isn’t known and insulin isn’t a cure. People with the disease must take insulin to control their blood glucose levels around the clock which means pricking their fingers numerous times a day for blood tests. Long-term complications of the disease include blindness, amputations, and kidney and heart disease. 

Cozad said the money goes to fund research and technology that will lead to a cure that seems within reach. She said researchers are designing a device that will act like a pancreas to make insulin. Someday, doctors may be able to implant an artificial pancreas.

Mario Hindi, a manager with Ford in Windsor who led the fundraising, doesn’t have a personal connection to Type 1 diabetes, just the Ford family.

Edsel Ford II, the great grandson of company founder Henry Ford, asked Ford employees two decades ago to raise money for Type 1 diabetes because his son had been diagnosed with the disease. They’ve been doing it ever since.

In Windsor it started as a small group in 2001 not expecting to reach $1 million in donations, Hindi said. The group holds hot dog days, 50/50 draws, a golf tournament and a car show, as well as getting pledges for the June walk. The Ford employees were regularly raising $50,000 a year and even when the jobs at the plant declined by thousands over the years, the fundraising increased in part thanks to support from Ford dealerships in the region, he said.

“We’ve been upping our ante every year,” Hindi said.

November is national diabetes awareness month. More than 300,000 Canadians live with Type 1 diabetes. Symptoms include sudden weight loss, frequent urination, blurred vision, abnormal thirst, lack of energy and constant hunger.

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Ford Motor Company and JDRF Canada announced that Ford’s Windsor Operations raised a cumulative total of over $1 million for the JDRF TELUS Walk to Cure Diabetes. A recognition event was held Nov. 11, 2017, at the St. Clair Centre for the Arts for Ford representatives. Ford employees pictured, front row, from left, Lori Balkwill, Mario Hindi, with Nicole Cozad, fundraising and community engagement manager with JDRF, Renee Browne and Denise Byrne, Back row, Paula Corp, Tim Little, Heather MacDonald, Tony Savoni and Shawn Mactier.

Dan Janisse /

Windsor Star