Still Running for a Diabetes Cure

Sep 19, 2013

If there were a top ten list of things you wouldn’t expect a scientist and researcher to say, this statement would be near the top: “There’s something magical about it. I don’t quite understand it.” That’s the admission of Dr. Jose Oberholzer as he reflects on the generous donations individuals and businesses have made over the years to The Chicago Diabetes Project (CDP) because he runs in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

The CDP is a global collaboration of scientists, researchers, physicians and surgeons dedicated to curing diabetes. As its director, Dr. Oberholzer has led the effort to raise more than $1 million over the last three years by running the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. His efforts earned him the Richard M. Daley and Maggie Daley Award in 2011, given to the participant who raises the most funds for charity. He raised $126,800 for The Chicago Diabetes Project.

Dr. Oberholzer is professor of surgery, endocrinology and diabetes, and bioengineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He’s also the director of the Islet and Pancreas Transplant Program and the chief of the Division of Transplantation. His participation in the Chicago Marathon enables him to connect his passion for curing diabetes with his passion for running. Dr. Oberholzer has made strides in both, running the marathon in three hours and raising an impressive amount of funds along the way.

“When you say ‘l’m running a marathon and I’m running for a cause,’ somehow it impresses people,” he said. “You train hard and you do something that’s fun for you, but you mix it with helping others. I think that touches people and makes them generous.”

The Chicago Diabetes Project’s running team started with fewer than 100 runners in 2009. Now, there are 250 who participate in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Dr. Oberholzer’s long-term goal is to have 1,000 people run for a diabetes cure. And, in the 2013 Bank of America Chicago Marathon, he hopes his team raises $300,000 for the effort. “When I won the award, I was shocked,” he said. “Mayor Daley and the Illinois president of Bank of America were there, and suddenly I realized that what I’m doing is actually really big. It magnified for me the impact we’re having on researchers, patients and their families.”


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You train hard and you do something that’s fun for you, but you mix it with helping others. I think that touches people and makes them generous.

Dr. Jose Oberholzer
2011 Daley Award Winner