Dallas

The fight against diabetes is personal for these Cowboys Hall of Famers

DALLAS, TX (CBSDFW.COM) — Pro Football Hall of Famers Cliff Harris and Charles Haley will always be part of a brotherhood as former Cowboys players, but they’re also bonded by their personal connection to diabetes.

Former Cowboys safety Cliff Harris says, “my dad was a type 1 diabetic and he lost his vision to diabetes.” Cliff’s late father, Buddy, won a Purple Heart for his bravery as a fighter pilot during World War II.  Diabetes prevented him from seeing Cliff play in 3 of his 5 Super Bowl appearances. At his induction speech in 2015, Charles Haley was proudly represented by his mom but acknowledged why his dad wasn’t in attendance.  

In his speech, Haley said, “my dad has both his legs amputated guys and he couldn’t make it here today.”   Fast forward to today and Haley says that his dad had “lost both his legs to diabetes and my mom has diabetes too.”  Haley’s parents, still living, have type 2, which is the most common type of diabetes.  It’s largely based on diet and lifestyle.  Cliff’s Father had type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disorder, for which there still is no cure. That makes his annual golf tournament, where he’s already raised more than 5 million dollars for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), that much more important. 

Tanya Conovalaff, a JDRF Community Engagement Manager, explains, “there’s over 36 million people on the country with type 2 and there’s 1.6 million people with type 1. To have the talk about JDRF and bring awareness to the disease is amazing.”  Even more amazing, were the ambassadors. Some as young as age 7, all with type 1 diabetes, rooting on the golfers in attendance. They know every dollar raised at the tournament goes towards advancement in research. Case in point, devices are now smaller and better, requiring no tubes, no constant pricks, and where kids can get readings on their levels without stopping their activities. Lily Tompkins, a JDRF Youth Ambassador proclaims, “I think it’s really cool…because something so little, can change so many lives.” 

And hopefully the biggest change is yet to come thanks to the drive of two Cowboys legends. Abby Monroe, another JDRF Youth Ambassador profoundly states, “we’re just all hoping that there will be a cure.”

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