In the 1950s, when Jack Wimpress, a talented Boeing aerodynamics engineer, and his late wife, Doris, a dedicated nurse, began their family, they were a statistical anomaly. “Three out of four of our children developed type 1 diabetes,” says Jack. “Everyone told us that this wasn’t possible.”
Luckily, between a nurse and an engineer, they could plan and manage the rigid treatment their children’s disease required. “We had the whole family on a diabetic diet with carbohydrates, protein and starches measured separately for each child,” says Jack. “We had to measure blood sugar levels through the urine instead of the blood. We never had a day off; their care was 24/7. It was hard when the children had high or low blood sugars resulting in insulin reactions.”
Though managing their diabetes care was difficult, the family enjoyed life together with water and snow skiing, bicycling, scouts and campfire girls, and touring the country in a travel trailer.
In about 1970, Jack was asked to join the Virginia Mason Research Center Board of Trustees, the precursor to the Benaroya Research Institute board. He served several years, and Jack and his wife began donating in support of autoimmune disease research. Jack has given every year since 1979 with several major gifts along the way. He has also attended programs at BRI to keep updated on progress. In August, Jack spoke at the Grapes on the Green fundraising event for BRI about his experience raising his family and the importance of supporting research.
“Some people think living with type 1 diabetes is not a big deal, but the complications associated with it can be devastating,” says Jack. His children encountered major complications, including blindness, kidney failure, heart disease and poor blood flow to the feet. Two underwent pancreas transplants. While today there are nine grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren and lots of love, those with diabetes have suffered greatly. Jack hopes research can change this for other families.
“Type 1 diabetes has proven to be a very complicated disease and the solutions are very difficult,” says Jack. “It requires a broad–based research team with much expertise. Benaroya Research Institute has those qualities. That’s why I give and I hope others will give BRI the support it deserves.”
For more information on giving to BRI, visit BenaroyaResearch.org/support-us.
Originally published in BRING IT ON newsletter - Winter 2016
January 1, 2017
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