Cartoonist Jerry Craft and Mama's Boyz Receive the American Diabetes Association's Outstanding Supporter Award!

Gerald Bernstein, MD, the National President-Elect of the A.D.A., shown presenting award me with an outstanding supporter award
Jerry Craft, creator of the nationally syndicated comic strip Mama's Boyz, was presented with the American Diabetes Association's Outstanding Supporter Award for valued contributions to National Diabetes Month. Craft's characters were selected as spokescharacters for the A.D.A.'s African-American program.

The award was presented by Gerald Bernstein, MD, the National President-Elect of the A.D.A. at a VIP ceremony during The World's Largest Block Party in New York City. Also in attendance was Alan Altschuler, National Chair of the A.D.A. The World's Largest Block Party is an annual fundraising event attracting millions of people, it featured 16 city blocks jam-packed with entertainment, food, events and information on diabetes. Proceeds from the event benefited the American Diabetes Association.

The Mama's Boyz characters are the perfect spokespersons for the American Diabetes Association! The comic strip follows the lives of the Porters, an African-American family that lives in a large city. The head of the family is Pauline Porter, a widow who lost her husband several years ago to diabetes. When she's not running the family bookstore, she's keeping an eye on her two teenage sons, Tyrell, age 18, and Yusuf, age 16.

According to statistics, more than 16 million Americans are affected by this deadly disease, with at least one new person diagnosed every 60 seconds. The African-American community is particularly hard hit, with a reported 1 in every 10 affected, in contrast to 1 in 16 members of the general population.

Jerry Craft started his work with the American Diabetes Association in April of 1996, and immediately began helping to educate his readers about diabetes. His first project with the A.D.A. was to get volunteers to participate in WALKTOBERFEST, a national fundraising walk that takes place every October. "Mom" and her boys joined tens of thousands of participants, who, on October 5th and 6th, "walked" on behalf of the American Diabetes Association.

"We're both delighted and grateful to have Jerry and Mama's Boyz as part of our program," says Peg Davis, Program Manager of the New York Affiliate's Downstate Region. "Presenting diabetes information in comic-strip form is a good way to reach people who might not take the time and effort to read a serious pamphlet."

The diabetes awareness theme has also been included in the Mama's Boyz story line with Mom trying to introduce a healthier lifestyle to her reluctant family. This new lifestyle has included eating more fish and lean meats, more fresh fruit and vegetables and getting more exercise. Unfortunately, she not only has to battle her teenage sons' appetite for junk food, she has also taken on the even more difficult task of changing her father's diet. As a retired chef, Gran'pa has made a career of cooking and eating large quantities of greasy fried foods. This theme has continued in the story even after Walktoberfest and appeared next to help recognize November as National Diabetes Month. This strip featured Mom serving a healthy, low-fat Thanksgiving meal to the family. Jerry Craft created the strip in 1991 and began distributing it himself to newspapers around the country. In January of 1995, Mama's Boyz was picked up by King Features Syndicate as part of its Weekly Service, making him one of only six African-American cartoonists to be distributed by a major syndicate. The Weekly Service is syndicated to more than 1,500 newspapers and magazines around the world.

"From the time that I first heard about the African-American program on the Internet in a newsletter called BOBC News, I knew that I wanted to lend a hand," says Jerry. "I've looked at cartooning as entertainment and I've looked at it as a source of income, but to think that my characters might actually help to save someone's life is amazing. Peg and Joyceann have been very supportive of my work, and I look forward to a long, successful relationship with them!"