Type 1 diabetes typically affects children and young adults, which makes it especially challenging for parents and families. For a small group of people within the Chicago futures community, the impact of the disease took on a personal meaning as they watched their friend and former futures trader Margie Teller cope with her daughter's struggle with diabetes, which was diagnosed when she was only 18 months old. Margie’s devotion to her daughter’s situation, and the realization that there were many in the world without the means to face this challenge, inspired their efforts to raise money for research into the cause and treatment of this disease.
Friends for the Cure began 15 years ago in Margie’s kitchen and leaned heavily on a close-knit circle of friends and colleagues. During her career on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Margie achieved great success as a trader of Eurodollar futures, an achievement that was recognized by her induction into the FIA Futures Hall of Fame in 2016. She also developed many close friends across the industry and even among her competitors on the floor, who were won over by her character and compassion for others. Frustrated by the slow pace of research into this debilitating disease, and yet encouraged by the willingness of friends and colleagues to provide emotional support, this small group of friends and peers decided that the best way to help was to leverage this network of connections for a broader purpose—to raise money for diabetes research through special gala events.
These events always have a theme, creatively designed by a core group of volunteers under the direction of event planner Michael Nugent, and they are intended to be upbeat and fun. That may seem contrary to the serious nature of the cause, but this is what has made these events special, different and successful over the years. These galas center on the idea that there is progress to celebrate, there is hope to be found in new therapies and technologies, and ultimately there will be a cure.
Throughout the years the group's efforts have been made possible with the support of many industry champions, including Mike Dawley, Terry Duffy, Blair Hull and Don Wilson. Friends for the Cure also has been supported by generous sponsors such as Advantage Futures, Chopper Trading, The Clearing Corporation Charitable Foundation, CME Group, DRW Trading, Goldman Sachs & Co., Guggenheim Capital, Hull Family Foundation, Mesirow Financial, PNC Bank, Rosenthal Collins Group, Shepard International, Summit Executive Centre, Telluride Group, TJM Institutional Services, White Cap Private Equity Management and many more.
Margie Teller receiving award from Dr. Lou Philipson, director of the Kovler center, for her support of diabetes research.
The group’s inaugural event, which took place in 2003, was the Moulin Rouge Gala at Marche Restaurant, with a little over 150 people in attendance. Fast forward to 2015 and Cirque for the Cure held at the Montgomery Club had over 650 people in attendance. The nine events held by Friends for the Cure so far have raised over $3 million dollars to help fund diabetes research through donations to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the American Diabetes Association, and the Kovler Diabetes Center at the University of Chicago's School of Medicine.
Friends for the Cure is now directly supporting the Kovler center, which is a multi-specialty research and therapy facility that includes research into more advanced treatments and potential cures for diabetes. Its researchers work in close contact with labs in other areas of medicine, sharing knowledge and experiences so research advances in one specialty may lead more efficiently to advances in others. Therapies are patient-focused and apply holistic approaches in coordination with any other medical issues the patient may have.
This fall Friends for the Cure held its tenth event with a theme of "Mission: Possible." The black-tie dinner, which was part of a year-long celebration of the Kovler center’s tenth anniversary, took place on Sept. 23 at Revel One Fulton Market in Chicago. More than 700 people attended as well as actors dressed as special agents and a live band. The goal for Mission: Possible is to raise $750,000 for the Kovler center.
Mary Kissane is director/risk officer for the futures division of Mizuho Securities USA. She is one of the founders of Friends for the Cure and served as co-chair for nine years.