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Leaning In

Hydropool raises funds, awareness for Type 1 Diabetes

When Hydropool store manager Carmen Deacitis first heard about the company’s fashion show project to raise money for a diabetes charity by showcasing clothing designed for those wearing a continuous glucose monitor, he was hesitant to get involved. Deacitis doesn’t typically advertise that he’s a Type 1 diabetic, so sporting a swimsuit on the runway wasn’t exactly on his bucket list.

“I wasn’t excited about being ‘voluntold’ to be part of the fashion show,” he says, “but once I realized all the other models were Type 1 diabetics, it made me feel a little more comfortable.”

Part of the Hydropool legacy program is to partner with one or two charities a year in fundraising efforts, says vice president of marketing Doug Gillespie. In January 2018, Gillespie began coaching a Special Olympics ice hockey team with Mike Houlahan, founder of T1D Think Tank, an advocacy group that collaborates with doctors and diabetes patients, and a conversation began.

A seven-month extensive collaboration led to the launch of the Pump Couture fashion show in May 2019, benefiting Think Tank’s work to improve clinical outcomes and quality of life for people with Type 1 diabetes. 

Hydropool provided the venue for the fashion show and helped sell the $90 tickets. Seven Hydropool employees were involved in the planning and execution of the event, but Gillespie says it was a company-wide effort, with 100 people selling tickets and raising money.

The tickets included wine and snacks. Vendors were set up under an event tent in front of the Hydropool showroom to sell the clothing showcased on the runway. A 50/50 ticket drawing and other fundraisers were available, and a drive for corporate donorship netted the largest contributions. Overall, the event raised $40,000.

“Events like this are important [to raise awareness] of how difficult it is for people living with diabetes,” Deacitis says. “I cried a bit when I heard the stories of how the disease has affected other people’s lives. We need more events like this to bring the Type 1 community together.”

The initial plan was to do an annual fashion show, but the COVID pandemic put the event on hold. However, Gillespie says the prep work is underway for the next Pump Couture event, to be held in May 2023.

“We’ve leaned into it since the pandemic to take a more direct approach,” Gillespie says of Hydropool’s continued work over the last two years regarding Type 1 diabetes. The company has launched approximately 40 videos featuring Deacitis that show how diabetes has impacted his life and how hot water therapy has helped. Additionally, Hydropool is helping raise funds for an expansion to the Charles H. Best House, a T1D Think Tank partner that creates a comfortable environment outside of a clinical setting for children to start treatment following their initial T1D diagnosis.

Gillespie’s daughter also has Type 1 diabetes, but he says she and Deacitis were not the only motivation to participate.

“It’s important for manufacturers to get involved in these types of events and give back to communities where their product is sold,” Gillespie says. “Today, there are more than 11.5 million Canadians living with diabetes or prediabetes. With more than 20 people being newly diagnosed every hour, the chances are great that diabetes will affect someone you know. We want to do our part to help.”