September 18, 2020

Help Take the Cure for Diabetes from a Petri Dish to People Around the World

by Bill Holtby | HEADing to 2022

2022 is the one hundredth anniversary of the first injection of insulin by Canadian scientists, Dr. Frederick Banting and Dr. Charles Best. Regrettably, there are currently 450 million people worldwide who rely on this medication to manage diabetes.

In the fall of 2018, I became a founding member of a small group of volunteers who have the ambitious goal of raising $22 million by 2022 to fund Canadian researchers in their quest to find a cure for diabetes. We are hoping that “22” is the lucky number. When the ARTA Board of Directors published the award‑winning ARTA Wellness: The Diabetes Volume, in autumn 2018, I thought, “What better partnership could there be?”

Obviously, finding a cure for diabetes is a very worthy cause. Outside of the difficult, challenging, and sometimes devastating personal effects diabetes has on individuals and families, there is a business proposition justifying why ARTA would partner with this initiative.

Close to twenty per cent of ARTA members make diabetes-related claims (Source: ARTA, March 2019). Even more startling is the fact that ARTA pays more than $1.3 million annually on such claims and that other government and public plans spend far greater amounts to cover treatment for this illness. Added to this are the thousands of dollars individuals pay yearly out of their own pockets to manage this disease. Wouldn’t it be great to strike this one off the list of diseases plaguing the world?

Great West Newspapers recently printed:

“Diabetes could be a thing of the past if all goes according to plan,” says Dr. James Shapiro who is heading a team of researchers on a cure. Helping him out is another team of people who are taking their fundraising effort across the country. They want a million people to dig not so deep for $22 each to donate to a project called HEADing to 2022…. The idea is simple: get one million people to make a modest donation of $22 each, and raise $22 million within the next two years. Doing so would enable Canadian researchers to take the cure from their labs to diabetics all around the world. It involves stem cells developed from the diabetics themselves, so there would be no risk of rejection, as other islet cell transplants have been plagued with. It’s a process that was originally developed in Japan by Professor Shinya Yamanaka who received the Nobel Prize for the work.

HEADing to 2022 is using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn to get the message out. There are no golf tournaments, galas, or silent auctions. Social media is a low-to-no cost way to get our message out. If the message is liked and shared by enough people, reaching a million Canadians is not out of the question. If 23,000 ARTA members gave $22, we would be half a million dollars closer to our goal. If members share it with their social media network, that number grows exponentially. Pretty cool for a bunch of retirees!

HEADing to 2022 is a committee of DRIFCan, a registered Canadian charity with the sole mission of raising funds for Canadian researchers to find a cure for diabetes. Details on the project and a link to donate can be found at headingto2022.com. If you know a not-for-profit or corporate partner that might be interested in joining our effort, send us an e-mail.


As a retired guy, ARTA member Bill Holtby has many more “titles”: hubby, dad, grandpa, neighbour, friend, caregiver, running partner, former City Manager, advocate, proud Canadian, and active volunteer. He adds, “Since I retired I have had the good fortune of being part of the ‘gig economy.’ Most of my gigs don’t pay monetarily, but they sure pay big in self-satisfaction.”