JDRF is the Melbourne Cup Carnival official Pin & Win charity partner again in 2018, and we’re ready to build on the successes of last year. Helping us out with the ambassador duties will be some new faces – Grace (8) and her mum, Toula. Get to know more about the Victorian family, and how Toula has adjusted to the shock of having two children diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in as many years.

Grace and Toula

Just two years ago, Toula was blissfully unaware of what type 1 diabetes was and how to treat it. Fast forward to today, and unfortunately now she can say that both her children – Grace and Daniel (2) – have it. Grace was the first to be diagnosed at just six years old. She went from being a happy, healthy and active little girl to losing weight rapidly and constantly drinking water and visiting the toilet.

“I still don’t know where it came from, but I can tell you now I am all too familiar with the disease and I watch my children’s daily battle with its effects,” said Toula.

“When Grace was diagnosed, watching that first syringe of insulin being injected was a bittersweet moment.  I was happy my child was getting the medicine she needed to save her life, but ached for the life of needles that lay ahead for her.”

Just a year later, Toula began to spot the same symptoms Grace went through in Daniel, and her heart sank. She had never wanted to be so wrong about something.

Grace and Daniel

Parents of kids with type 1 diabetes have it tough, often losing sleep themselves. Toula checks the kids’ blood glucose levels at least twice a night, although sometimes she can be up monitoring every two hours.

“The lack of sleep and tackling the next days’ challenges can often be exhausting.”

Grace is now using an insulin pump, which means less painful needles. Little Daniel also started using a pump recently, but is still learning how to use his, so Grace is always on hand to support him and help him when he needs it.

Grace says, “I had to have four needles a day and at least six finger pricks a day. At the beginning, I used to cry but after a few months I got better and even started to do my own needles. Diabetes has been hard and I hope one day there is a cure or an even better insulin pump.  I will keep on dancing, swimming and doing stuff even though I have it, I am just learning how to do it differently.”

Last year, thanks to the generosity of the community and Flemington racegoers, the Pin & Win partnership raised $420,000 to support JDRF to drive ongoing research to benefit people living with type 1 diabetes.

“We have discovered a new kind of normal and can now focus on living rather than just getting by.  We have always loved to travel and wanted the kids to enjoy everything life has to offer.  Now with thanks to the work of JDRF and such organisations we are back on the path of making that happen,” says Toula.


JDRF Chief Executive and Managing Director Mike Wilson said JDRF was delighted to again partner with the VRC.

“We are proud to have the support of the VRC in helping create a world without type 1 diabetes. The key to unlocking a future without type 1 diabetes is research so by purchasing a pin, racegoers are helping to support local researchers discover new ways to treat, and hopefully cure, this insidious disease,” said Mr Wilson.

The Pin & Win campaign kicks off in early September, with pins available at Flemington race days.

The $10 Horse Shoe Pin and the $5 traditional Lexus Melbourne Cup Pin will be available to purchase from JDRF volunteers throughout the 2018 Melbourne Cup Carnival. By purchasing a pin, people can enter the draw to win a share in over $135,000 in prizes, including a brand new Lexus NX 300h AWD F Sport valued at up to $80,000, drawn on Seppelt Wines Stakes Day (10 November 2018).

More information on the Pin & Win program.

Volunteer at Pin & Win
We need plenty of amazing volunteers in order to make the Pin & Win campaign a success and make an impact on type 1 diabetes research.
There are several volunteering opportunities available at Melbourne racing events from mid-September through to mid-November. Please register here or email Clinton Meehan directly on with any enquiries. 

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