Gary VandenBergh of Cresskill is fighting to focus more attention on diabetes

Gary VandenBergh got so fed up last November watching Matt Lauer and Al Roker on "The Today Show" learn about prostate cancer the hard way that it almost made his blood sugar spike.

"The fact that National Diabetes Month, November, went by with barely a mention in the national news media is astonishing given the fact that prostate cancer, a disease with 233,000 new cases this year, was mentioned every day on the 'Today Show,' " said VandenBergh, a television production editor from Cresskill who has Type 2 diabetes. This, when diabetes has 1.9 million new cases annually, he noted.

His may be a lone voice in the hierarchy of New Jersey nonprofit organizations, whose directors insist there is a visible awareness campaign in place and year-round diabetes fundraising events that raise millions for research and medical assistance to the uninsured. Nonetheless, VandenBergh is on a mission: to raise public awareness about testing and treatment through a more powerful public relations campaign than the kind he's been seeing.

Which is why he founded The Diabetes Project Inc., a grass-roots organization looking to create what he calls a more "in-your-face" awareness campaign in New Jersey that will serve as a national model.

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