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ENGAGED PHILANTHROPY
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JDRF

Since 2013, David has supported JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) through fundraising events and personal donations. Pickler has long been the Title Sponsor at the JDRF Gala, an annual event that raises hundreds of thousands of dollars for Type 1 diabetes research. Further, David has run multiple marathons on behalf of the children stricken with this terrible disease.

JDRF

In 2013, David’s daughter, Katie, inspired by her family’s passion for community service and volunteerism, accepted a job at JDRF. A social butterfly with a college degree in organizational communication, Katie was hired as the Director of Development, charged with all local fundraising initiatives. Quickly, she impressed her employer with her passion and sincerity which gave her an edge in the job.

Through Katie, David and the Pickler family became more aware of the challenges facing children with Type 1 diabetes. Born healthy, these juveniles usually develop diabetes at 10-12 years old when their pancreases stop working effectively. This condition requires checking their blood as often as 10 to 12 times a day and taking insulin to regulate their glucose levels.

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As part of her job, Katie organized the JDRF youth ambassadors, a group of 25 kids diagnosed with Type I diabetes. Serving as ambassadors, they made presentations at community events. While most were teenagers, some were as young as seven years old. Spending a lot of time together, they became like family to each other—and endured heartbreak together. One day, a 13-year-old ambassador named Lindsey experienced a sudden drop in her blood-sugar level and went into a coma from which she never awoke. It was devastating to everyone. Katie got an early education on the tragic impact of this disease. While there is still no cure for Type 1 diabetes, researchers are making progress, in part from work at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and other entities, increasing these kid’s chances of leading a normal life.

For many years, our firm sponsored JDRF’s annual gala, the Promise Ball, to raise funds for this important cause. For Katie, her work with JDRF was more a passion than a job.

David’s wife Beth and son-in-law Daniel have both been named Volunteer(s) of the Year for JDRF. Their selflessness was evident each year as they helped design, organize, set up, and take down the Promise Ball. They are true examples of how volunteering can better the lives of others and of the community.

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Running for a Cause

In her fundraising work with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), Katie learned about Disney’s Marathon Weekend held every January in Orlando. This “mega race”, aptly named the Dopey Challenge, consisted of four consecutive days of running: a 5k, 10k, half marathon, and full marathon. Being the organizer she is, Katie pulled together a JDRF team to race and raise money for the cause. (Sponsors donated funds for each runner who completed the race.) Marathon weekend was nine months away.

As a 58-year-old participant, David would be taking on something he really hated – running. At 48.6 miles, this race would cover more ground than any of his previous races.

In January 2019, the entire Pickler family traveled to Orlando for the big event.

For the first two days – during the 5k and 10k – David, Katie, and Chris jogged through the world-renowned amusement park, surrounded by picture-perfect Disney-styled landscapes with little difficulty. However, after the third day – the half marathon – Katie developed severe blisters on her feet. Motivated by her cause – finding a cure for Type 1 diabetes, and in spite of the agonizing pain, she willed herself to run on the final day. Prior to the race, she had collected audio snippets of the JDRF kids encouraging her through the run. While David played high-tempo music to push him to the finish line, Katie played these motivating messages.

Chris, an accomplished runner, finished the race before the rest of the family. Then, David and Katie sprinted across the finish line, a symbolic push to show they gave it their all. For the kids of JDRF.

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One Walk

As one of JDRF’s largest fundraisers, One Walk was held every year at Shelby Farms. Hundreds of individuals and teams, including Pickler Wealth Advisors, would gather to walk in honor of those stricken with T1D. It was an inspiring event that saw individuals talk about hope and finding the cure for this disease. As part of One Walk, teams were encouraged to design and wear t-shirts that fit the theme every year. Our Chief Branding Officer, Cameron Spann, proudly created these designs. In 2017, he and Pickler Wealth Advisors were awarded “Design of the Year” for our shirt.

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Working with the Courageous Individuals of JDRF

Even though Katie stepped away from JDRF in 2019 to pursue a career at Pickler Wealth Advisors, our firms continued to support the incredible Youth Ambassadors of JDRF. In 2019, when our foundation, the American Public Education Foundation, began working on its inaugural Report Card on Financial Literacy, we hired Catrina Curtis as Research Assistant. Catrina, who bravely battles Type 1 diabetes and was once a JDRF Youth Ambassador, had just graduated with a degree in Public Policy Leadership was looking for some summer work before starting law school at William & Mary Law School. We proudly hired her for the summer, and her passion for education policy and America’s public schools were evident through her detailed research. Her work on this successful initiative can still be seen in more recent iterations of the report card since her hiring.

In 2021, we were looking to hire a Financial Planning Assistant for the firm. Because of Katie’s deep connections to JDRF, we were introduced to another outstanding individual, Candace Montgomery. Upon meeting Candace, who had been working in the medical field, we quickly realized what an asset she would be for Pickler Wealth Advisors. We hired Candace as a full-time employee, after her brief stint as Legal Assistant for our law firm, and have been impressed by her work ethic and attention to detail. She has fostered invaluable rapport with our clients, and the financial plans that she builds will only grow our services and capabilities for years to come.

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JDRF
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