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At 92, America’s Most Inspiring Fundraiser Rode Through Death Valley to Support His Favorite Charity

Jack Hughes

Jack Hughes, 92, has raised more than $400,000 for JDRF.

Jack Hughes wins 2020 Cash, Sweat & Tears Award for fundraising and advocacy in support of JDRF

It’s special to be able to do this with my family. And the rides are like being part of an even bigger family. Everyone is there to support each other.”
— Jack Hughes

AUSTIN, TEXAS, UNITED STATES, March 2, 2020 / -- Jack Hughes, who at the age of 92 participated in a JDRF fundraising bike ride in the blistering heat of Death Valley, today was honored with the 2020 Cash, Sweat & Tears Award as North America’s most inspiring fundraising volunteer.

Hughes, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) more than half a century ago, has been a tireless rider in 10 JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes events – and plans to embark on yet another fundraising ride in Death Valley in October. He has raised over $400,000 to date for JDRF, the leading global organization funding T1D research.

“Jack epitomizes everything that is great about peer-to-peer fundraising,” said David Hessekiel, founder and president of the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum, which created this award. “Not only does he push himself to ride and raise money, he’s an amazing ambassador for JDRF and is inspiring countless people through his example.”

Each year since 2009, the Cash Sweat & Tears award has been given to an extraordinary volunteer for going above and beyond to conduct peer-to-peer fundraising for charity.

In peer-to-peer fundraising, a nonprofit’s supporters reach out to their friends, family and colleagues for donations often in connection with an activity such as a walk or ride. Collectively, these campaigns raise billions for nonprofits across North America.

For Hughes, support for JDRF began late in his life. He participated in his first ride in 2010. Since then, his participation has become a family affair. Hughes’ son, daughter, grandson, and granddaughter all ride with him. At the 2019 Death Valley Ride, his great granddaughter Estelle was at the finish line cheering him on.

“It’s special to be able to do this with my family,” Hughes says. “And the rides are like being part of an even bigger family. Everyone is there to support each other.”

Hughes said he doesn’t consider himself to be a great fundraiser. He simply feels strongly about the cause and wants to do something to show his gratitude.

“I wouldn’t still be here today if it wasn’t for the advancements that JDRF has helped make possible,” he said.

Hughes was diagnosed with T1D in 1968 and has been managing the disease ever since. Shortly after his diagnosis, he resolved to improve his diet and begin exercising more regularly.

These changes led him to begin riding his bike – a habit he continues today. Hughes still logs as many as 100 miles per week on a recumbent bicycle to train for the JDRF Ride events.

“Year after year, Jack’s support of JDRF’s mission to improve lives and as we drive toward cures for type 1 diabetes has been unwavering,” said Alyson Levine, JDRF National Director, Ride to Cure Diabetes. “We congratulate Jack on receiving this well-deserved award and acknowledgement.”

Hughes’ participation in the rides has become about much more than raising money. At each ride, he’s often stopped by other riders for pictures – and he draws thunderous cheers from supporters.

“He’s a soft-spoken hero for our team that everyone looks up to,” said Melanie Schmid, senior development coordinator for JDRF. “When Jack shows up at a JDRF ride, he brings the cash and sweat. And when Jack crosses the finish line, year after year, we all bring the tears.”

About the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum

The Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum supports professionals who manage peer-to-peer fundraising events at nonprofits around the world. It offers a growing array of conferences, webinars, research, white papers, and case studies that aim to help these professionals gain knowledge and insights that help them become more effective fundraisers. Learn more at

About the Cash, Sweat & Tears Award

The Cash, Sweat & Tears award honors the passion of the nonprofit world’s most extraordinary volunteers — the people who take on physical challenges or overcome tremendous obstacles raise money from their friends, family, and colleagues for U.S. charities.

Each year, the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum invites the organizers of athletic fundraising programs in the United States to nominate one inspiring participant for the award. The nomination period opens each November and the winners are announced at the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum’s annual conference.

About JDRF
JDRF is the leading global organization funding type 1 diabetes (T1D) research. Our mission is to accelerate life-changing breakthroughs to cure, prevent and treat T1D and its complications. To accomplish this, JDRF has invested more than $2.2 billion in research funding since our inception. We are an organization built on a grassroots model of people connecting in their local communities, collaborating regionally for efficiency and broader fundraising impact and uniting on a national stage to pool resources, passion and energy. We collaborate with academic institutions, policymakers and corporate and industry partners to develop and deliver a pipeline of innovative therapies to people living with T1D. Our staff and volunteers throughout the United States and our five international affiliates are dedicated to advocacy, community engagement and our vision of a world without T1D. For more information, please visit or follow us on Twitter: @JDRF.

Peter Panepento
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