In April, 10-year-old Grace Bull boarded a plane in Vancouver with her parents, David Bull and JoAnne Strongman, on the way to Palm Desert in California. She was planning to spend her spring break relaxing by the pool and soaking up the sun. She had no idea that when she arrived back home, her life would never be the same.
When the Bull family arrived in Palm Springs, Grace became very ill. “I was so hot and tired… I couldn’t get out of bed. I had spots all over my legs.” After being rushed to the emergency room at Eisenhower Hospital, Grace was transferred to Loma Linda Children’s Hospital, where she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D). “I had no idea what was happening. I just felt really, really scared.” The first question she asked the doctors was, “Can I still dance? I was so clueless…I didn’t know anything about T1D.”
Since then, Grace, and her parents, who live in West Vancouver, have been avid supporters of JDRF. “We love JDRF… supporting them gives us the chance to feel like we can make a difference, where otherwise we feel helpless,” David and JoAnne said. "They have so many people working for them who have devoted their lives to finding a cure… they’ve given us hope. And made us feel like we’re not alone. JDRF is our light at the end of the tunnel and we’re proud to support them" says David and JoAnne.
In June, less than two months after learning of her diagnosis, Grace participated in the Sun Life Walk to Cure Diabetes for JDRF. “I went door-to-door all around Vancouver with my friend who has T1D. And I made so many phone calls to family and friends. We explained what T1D was and asked to donate to help fund research.” And she was one of the top 10 fundraisers nationwide! “I’ll keep going to events and do my best to raise money. It’s just what I can show in return for all that JDRF has done for me."
Grace and the Bull family didn’t stop there. She asked her father, the President and CEO of John Bull Investments, to become a corporate sponsor for the JDRF Gala and they worked together to invite all of her family and friends to attend and donate. “I’ve seen how hard JDRF is working to find a cure… and I want to do everything I can to help them."
In November, during National Diabetes Awareness Month, she was one of 28 young delegates who attended JDRF’s Kids For A Cure Lobby Day in Ottawa, where she represented JDRF in the House of Commons and in front of Members of Parliament. “It was really cool meeting them… talking to them and sharing my story. They were so nice. Because of us, the MPs are going to join the All Party Caucus for T1D and write to the Minister of Finance in support of the recommendation for JDRF’s pre-budget submission."
And, recently, she shared her story with Prime Minister Trudeau. "He told me to keep doing what I’m doing, that I can make a big difference in the world… that I already have. It’s motivated and inspired me to keep working hard to raise awareness for T1D."
After forming a special bond with Pamela Goldsmith-Jones, the current MP for West Vancouver and a strong advocate for T1D, she was invited to meet with Prime Minister Trudeau at a fundraising event. Grace, proudly wearing her JDRF Kids For A Cure jersey, spoke with the Prime Minister about her experience with T1D and how JDRF has helped those living with it. “He asked me a bunch of thoughtful questions and was really engaged. He even signed my scrapbook, ‘Thank you, Grace, for sharing your strength and leadership with us all.’"
“Grace wasn’t just speaking for herself, she was representing every child in Canada with T1D,” says her father. “I have never been more proud."
“At the end of the day, having T1D isn’t the worst thing. Life only gives you what you can handle,” says Grace. “And with JDRF’s help, we’re going to find a cure in my lifetime."