Each February since 2013, the global Diabetes Online Community has supported the charity Life for a Child through the Spare a Rose, Save a Child campaign. For anyone new to the DOC, or to this blog, Spare a Rose is a super simple campaign with its climax on Valentine’s Day. The idea is for people to send 11 rather than 12 roses to their loved one, and donate the money saved from that one rose to Spare a Rose. That one rose will provide a child with diabetes in an under resourced country insulin for a month. One rose equals one month. Easy!

No one owns Spare a Rose. It was created by a group of diabetes advocates from the US diabetes community and quickly spread to other countries. It is the definition of ‘by people with diabetes, for people with diabetes’ and is a beautiful and perfect illustration about what the DOC can be about when egos, arguments and debates are put aside. There have always been champions who have done an outstanding job sharing the campaign to their networks, but every single person in the DOC is part of the Spare a Rose community. Most people just go about contributing quietly, not needing to shout to the world how much they have donated, because that’s not really in the spirit of the campaign. Every single dollar, euro or pound donated is important and makes a difference.

But here is something worth shouting about: In the eight years the campaign has run, a grand total of USD$261,733 has been raised. Put in Spare a Rose terms, that’s 52,347 roses, which means that a whole year’s worth of insulin has been provided to almost 4,400 children and young people with diabetes in under-resourced countries. I still get goosebumps just thinking about that!

The most amazing thing about Spare a Rose is that it has been picked up in some really wonderful and creative ways. As well as blogs and posts across pretty much evert social media platform imaginable, there have been tweet chats, podcasts and vlogs dedicated to raising awareness and raising funds for the campaign. Talented artists in the DOC have created beautiful artwork and designs to promote the campaign. There have workplace giving campaigns. These efforts have come from every corner of the community, and have resulted in some truly astonishing fundraising totals – especially over the last couple of years.

Spare a Rose 2021 might be a little different. The effects of COVID-19 means that a lot of people who have donated in previous years may not be in a position to do so this year, which is completely understandable. ATTD has been postponed to June which means Spare a Rose can’t piggyback off this year’s conference. The last few years it’s been great to use the focus of a major diabetes conference – and its audience of a huge number of diabetes advocates – to whip up a frenzy of interest and excitement about the campaign, and to introduce it to a whole heap of PWD who may otherwise not have heard about it. We’ve been unashamedly opportunistic by running cheeky adjunct campaigns like Spare a Frown, that raised over $10,000 in just a few days. And we’ve absolutely taken advantage of being right in the face of diabetes device and pharma companies, and asked them to contribute. Which they willingly have.

And so, there may be fewer opportunities to get people to reach into their pockets to donate.

But also, we all know that diabetes doesn’t stop just because there is a global pandemic. And we know that it is people already disproportionately affected by diabetes who are doing it even tougher in times of COVID-19.

Today is the big kick off for Spare A Rose, Save a Child for 2021. It’s another chance for the diabetes community to come together and show just what it can do to support those who are living in places where diabetes is more difficult to afford and to manage; where access to healthcare, medications and diabetes consumables is a daily challenge. If you are lucky enough to live in a country where there is universal healthcare, or to have insurance that helps you afford living with diabetes, and are in a position to make a donation, please, please do.

And share! Word of mouth is important for Spare a Rose. Seeing the DOC flooded with images of roses and links to the donation page helps no end. So, here you go…click on the image below to be taken straight to the donation page. Let’s see what we can do for others in the community.

Follow Spare a Rose on Twitter.

And on Facebook.

And on Instagram.