Margery Teller couldn’t figure out why her 18-month-old daughter, Rachel Brown, was constantly consuming large amounts of juice around the clock. After returning home from a vacation in 1997 with her then husband, Ms. Teller realized that something was wrong. A visit to the pediatrician confirmed Ms. Teller’s suspicions. Rachel was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.
Energetic, bright and competitive, Ms. Teller was one of the few women who traded Eurodollars at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in the ’80s and ’90s. Her professional demeanor and dedication carried over to her personal life, and she started raising funds for diabetes research the same year her daughter was diagnosed. “It was horrifying to see my daughter have seizures when she was an infant,” she recalls.
Calling upon friends in the trading pit and around Chicago, Ms. Teller founded Friends for the Cure and has raised more than $2 million since then for the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). Ms. Teller currently serves on the ADA board and previously served on the JDRF board for six years.
Hosting annual events that are ever-changing and unique, Ms. Teller says, “We raise the majority of funds prior to the event through corporate sponsorship. The events are full of entertainment sans live auction and speeches. However, we do set up a fierce silent auction.” Switching gears in 2014, Friends for the Cure has chosen a new recipient for its fundraiser – the University of Chicago Kovler Diabetes Center. Funds benefit clinical research in Pump & Sensor Technology, Beta Cell Encapsulation Therapies, Genetics & Diabetes, Adult Stem Cell Project and the Health & Wellness Program.
This year’s event, Mardi for a Cure, a black-tie cocktail party, will be held on Saturday, March 1 at the Montgomery Club (500 West Superior Street), with the goal of raising over $500,000. Over 700 attendees will be entertained Mardi Gras-style along with bites from Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse, and libations generously donated by Southern Wine & Spirits.
Now grown up and in her senior year of high school, Rachel plays field hockey and soccer. Her energy and motivation know no bounds. Since there isn’t a cure for diabetes, the treatment is lifelong. That never stopped her from traveling to destinations around the world, including China, Japan, India and Africa to name a few.
“When Rachel went to Tanzania, there wasn’t any refrigeration for her medications,” says Ms. Teller. “I did some research online and found a small device that provided the perfect temperature and could be charged off of a car’s battery.” There are no boundaries. Ms Teller adds, “My daughter has been monitoring her insulin levels on her own since she was 11 and has never complained. She just keeps going, and never gives up.” The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.