JDRF’s ‘at-home’ gala remains a big success

First year Columbus, Cincinnati chapters combine

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Southern & Central Ohio hosted its annual Cincinnatian of the Year Gala May 8, this year with an “at home” concept that provided virtual programming and party kits so guests could enjoy the event from the comfort and safety of their own homes. It raised over $1 million to fund research to find a cure for type 1 diabetes. This year’s event was the first unified fundraiser for the newly merged chapter, which now includes the Central Ohio region.

Reither Family and friends

The theme this year was “Back to the 80’s,” and guests and sponsors received a fully catered meal courtesy of Jeff Thomas; 80’s-inspired virtual escape room; spirits from Heidelberg Distributing and Watershed Distillery; and a custom “Razzle Dazzle” cocktail kit by local bartender LaToya Jackson.

Local 12’s Bob Herzog served as virtual emcee, along with his counterpart Angela An of 10TV in Columbus. 

The gala honored Liza and Albert Smitherman of Jostin Construction as the Cincinnatians of the Year and welcomed over 600 “at home” guests in total. At the event, Executive Director Melissa Newman announced that the chapter had received an additional $500,000 major gift, in addition to the $1 million raised at the event. 

All event proceeds support the JDRF mission to cure type 1 diabetes, which is an autoimmune disease that can impact anyone at any age and at any time and has no association with diet or lifestyle choices.


Jack Hughes and Family
Jostin Construction employees
Mustain and Cain families
O’Bryan Family
Weidner Family
JDRF staff: Jess Boyd, Becky Gaible, Hadley George, Melanie Schmid and Melissa Newman
JDRF volunteers: Angela Sweeney, Donna Walker, Kim Lucken, Amy Camins and Becky Gaible

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