Spare a Rose, Save a Child Campaign Kicks Off

The diabetes online community finds a romantic way to support people with Type 1 in the developing world.



Bennet Dunlap, an online diabetes community activist, is using social media to champion the International Diabetes Federation’s 2015 Spare a Rose, Save a Child campaign. The idea is simple: instead of buying a dozen roses for Valentine’s Day, buy one fewer and donate the value of that flower to help children with diabetes have access to insulin and testing equipment.

This is the third year of the Spare a Rose campaign. It began as an idea of the diabetes online community to use social media and its worldwide reach for social good.

“We were at a social media communications conference with Johnson & Johnson, and Valentine’s Day was approaching, so we actually hijacked the idea,” Dunlap says. “(Blogger) Kerri Sparling came up with ‘Flowers die … Kids don’t have to,’ we put out our…message, and we raised $3,700.”

In the second year of the campaign, with some greater sophistication and time to plan, Spare a Rose reached out to 24 countries and brought in $27,265 from 834 individuals, reflecting an increase in revenue of 808% to Life for a Child, enough to purchase a year’s supply of insulin for 454 children. Last year’s efforts also generated a magazine article, two television interviews, 50 blog posts, and tweets enough to tally more than 8.7 million media impressions.

Spare a Rose is one of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) Life for a Child initiatives in which individuals, families, and organizations worldwide join to contribute monetary and in-kind support to help children with diabetes in developing countries. Contributions from donors go to established public health and pediatric diabetes health agencies to support the ongoing clinical care and education that children with diabetes need to stay alive. The aim is to provide insulin and syringes, blood glucose monitoring equipment, appropriate clinical care, A1C testing, diabetes education, and technical support for health professionals. IDF launched Life for a Child in 2001 in partnership with Diabetes Australia-NSW and Hope Worldwide, recognizing that there are between 80,000 and 100,000 youth with diabetes in need around the world.

“Our goal this year is $50,000,” Dunlap says. “For this year, we have better links to the IDF sites, a drop-down menu for giving options, and a way to sign up for a monthly bank account debit or credit card charge. We’ve also grown our online publicity by reaching out to all our online community members to ask that they employ their personal networks.”

He says the Spare a Rose campaign has created some heartwarming Valentine’s Day stories. For example, he heard of one person who went to the Spare a Rose site and then copied the rose logo to make a Valentine’s Day card explaining the donation to his love. Unbeknownst to him, she had done the same for him. Dunlap says the campaign helps him personally keep perspective of how lucky he is to have the resources to take care of his two children with diabetes.

“We have insurance, and I know how to cut the red tape,” he says. “It breaks my heart that there are kids who don’t have that.”

To join the 2015 Spare a Rose, Save a Child campaign, go to http://www.p4dc.com/spare-a-rose/Give/. When you visit your florist after making a donation, mention the campaign and spread the word.

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Jim Cahill is a senior writer for Insulin Nation and Type 2 Nation. Before turning to writing, he was a lawyer in government and private practice who focused on consumer protection and regulatory law. He can be contacted at jcahill@epscomm.com.