Bart Millard of MercyMe: Fighting to End Juvenile Diabetes Through 'Imagine a Cure'
Most people know Bart Millard as the lead singer of the contemporary Christian band, MercyMe. The band has won numerous Dove and other music awards but are probably best known for their hit single, I Can Only Imagine. After his son was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes, Bart also became the founder of the nonprofit organization, Imagine a Cure.
What is Juvenile Diabetes?
Juvenile diabetes is more commonly called Type 1 diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes. Thirty five American children are diagnosed with this condition everyday and continue to live with it the rest of their lives.
Those who have juvenile diabetes need insulin injections in order to survive. This condition is caused by an autoimmune destruction of the beta cells of the pancreas which normally secrete insulin. This lack of insulin leads to increased blood and urine glucose.
When children are diagnosed with juvenile diabetes they:
- Have a lower projected life span by 14 years
- Are more likely to suffer blindness, amputation, heart disease, kidney disease, nerve damage
- Are two-four times likely to suffer a stroke or heart attack
Imagine A Cure
Bart Millard's son, Sam, was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at the age of two. In 2007, Bart founded the non-profit organization, Imagine A Cure, to help support research to find a cure for this disease. Bart said his son's disease has changed his life and the lives of their family forever.
On MercyMe's website, Bart Millard not only implores those who can give to do so but asks for prayers as well. He says, "Pray for the hearts and minds of the scientist and doctors trying to find a cure. Pray for everyone who is experiencing this terrible disease first hand. Pray that God find greater glory through a cure and that God be glorified through Sam’s life."
Bart Millard and his band members often use portions of tickets or music sales to go towards Imagine a Cure. In 2008, Bart Millard released a solo project called Hymned Again. With every purchase made on itunes, a portion of the proceeds went to Imagine A Cure. This past year, MercyMe was part of the lineup for the Rock and Worship Road Show where some of the proceeds from ticket sales also went to Imagine A Cure. There have been numerous other tours and concerts where proceeds have gone to Imagine A Cure.
Besides Imagine A Cure, Bart Millard is also a part of many other fundraisers and organizations that helps to find a cure for juvenile diabetes. His organization works closely with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), whose exclusive focus is to find a cure for the disease. Eighty-five percent of all donations to the JDRF go directly into research.
In 2008, Bart's son, Sam, won a contest sponsored by the Ford Customer Service Division (FCSD) and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) to help raise awareness of the disease. Sam and the other JDRF kids got to submit a design for the Motorcraft/Quick Lane/Custom Accessories Shelby Mustang Funny Car, which was featured on the car during the NHRA U.S. Nationals.
The Generous Mr. Lovewell
MercyMe's latest album, The Generous Mr. Lovewell, has a message of compassion and and goodwill. The band hopes that the music on this album inspires everyone to reach out to those in need and to spread their generosity.
"It's always been a part of us to at least to want to try to give back," said Nathan Cochran, bass guitar player for MercyMe.
Regarding the song The Generous Mr. Lovewell, which shares the title of the album, Mercy Me says, "Mr. Lovewell represents those people in our lives who take advantage of every moment to make a difference regardless whether they get the spotlight or not. Believing it’s the little things that make a great big change."