Salem resident Sally Southard has been dedicated to the mission of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, a type 1 diabetes research and advocacy organization, for more many years. As a result of her work with the organization, she was recognized last month at the annual JDRF One Conference in Washington, D.C. with the 2022 Erwin Lurie Award, which recognizes chapter volunteers whose commitment to the volunteer-staff partnership has significantly advanced the mission and strategic priorities of JDRF.
The award is named for Erwin Lurie, who helped found JDRF in 1970 with his wife. It is presented annually to a chapter volunteer.
“Sally is an all-around T1D champion, from welcoming new members into the community to sharing her knowledge and raising funds to accelerate life-changing research,” said Jaclyn Toll, executive director of the JDRF Mid Atlantic Chapter. “We thank Sally for her longstanding commitment to our mission and congratulate her on this well-deserved award.”
Southard was selected out of 29 nominees. “I got chills and started crying. To be honored out of the volunteers in the whole country…there’s so many people who spend countless hours. To be chosen out of all those people was just amazing. I’m still kind of in shock,” she said. “I’m totally honored and definitely humbled by it.”
Southard has been living with type 1 diabetes for more than 57 years.
“JDRF is near and dear to my heart because I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was 10,” Southard said. “It’s such an overwhelming disease. It changes your life in a millisecond. It’s a lot to learn about what works and what doesn’t work, what to do and what not to do. It’s a disease that there’s never a vacation from it. It’s 24/7. You’re always thinking about: What am I eating? How much insulin do I take? How’s my blood sugar? Is it high? Is it low?”
Southard noted that she has observed significant advancements in the research into type 1 diabetes throughout her lifetime.
Southard explained that a JDRF chapter was started in Roanoke in the early 1980s around the same time she started work as a pediatric nurse. She got involved in the chapter. Walks were started, then later galas were held.
“The mission of JDRF is to raise money and awareness to find the cure for type 1 diabetes,” Southard explained.
Southard’s affiliation with the organization includes previously serving as a JDRF T1D Voices Council member and Greater Blue Ridge Chapter president and board member. She currently serves as the Virginia mission board chair and as a research information volunteer, as well as in an active member role for both the Mid-Atlantic Chapter’s Community Board of Directors and Executive Council.
“It is an honor to present this award to long-time JDRF volunteer leader Sally Southard,” said Aaron Kowalski, JDRF CEO. “Sally has selflessly dedicated time and passion to elevating the JDRF mission, and we are grateful for her continued support.”
Southard has been in the Salem area since she attended Roanoke College. She graduated in 1977. She and her husband raised their family in Salem. She previously served on the Salem School Board.
Professionally, she worked as a pediatric nurse practitioner for Carilion Clinic for 38 years. She retired three years ago.