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The People who make the Pops Possible

Thursday, April 24, 2014

On May 9th, Joslin Diabetes Center’s Evening at Pops will celebrate its 28th anniversary. First established in 1985 by dedicated parents and patients to celebrate an organization that has been instrumental in their lives, the annual event, held at Symphony Hall, includes a pre-concert reception with delectable food and entertainment, followed by a spectacular celebration as Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops celebrate The Very Best of POPS.

Like the Pops performance, the people who make these events possible are truly amazing. This year, in memoriam, Joslin will honor Jean and Frank Ring and celebrate their support of Joslin Diabetes Center. In addition, during the reception there will be a 50-Year Medalist presentation for Laurie Bejoian.

Frank Ring, nicknamed “Mr.Pops” by Joslin committee members, was born in Newton, Massachusetts in 1926. He was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 12.
 
He is described by his son, David, as both a man who liked to make things happen, and a man who went after what he wanted. Frank’s sense of independence and desire to stay active were two of the reasons why he chose to start his own business, Applied Plastics, which is currently celebrating its 60th anniversary. Frank knew the importance of staying active in controlling diabetes, David explains, which was why he never retired.

David describes his father as "Never a joiner, never looking to accede, except for his involvement and commitment to Joslin and the fight against diabetes."

A leader in this fight, Frank participated in many of the studies and events at Joslin. He was a long time Joslin Overseer, and leading member of the Evening at Pops Committee. Frank loved to help people and always had a positive attitude.

David describes his mother, Jean, as a music lover who enjoyed both playing the piano and attending the symphony. Though never a fan of drawing attention to herself, she supported Joslin, along with her husband, in its mission to prevent, treat and cure diabetes. David says that Evening at Pops was special to his parents because it "combined their love for both Joslin and music."

While Frank and Jean have passed away, Frank in 2008 and Jean this past summer, the Joslin community will continue to cherish their memory.

"The Rings were the kindest, most generous and inspiring people. I'm blessed to have known them. They are truly missed," says Laurie Bejoian, who worked with Frank on the Evening at Pops Committee.

To honor Jean and Frank Ring’s legacy, the honorary award will now be called the Frank and Jean Ring Memorial Award in the Fight Against Diabetes.

In response to being remembered and honored at this year's Evening at Pops event, David says his parents would have been thrilled and deeply humbled, and adds, “Evening at Pops is a wonderful event that brings about a deep sense of community, while promoting awareness of the challenges of living with diabetes.”

These feelings are mirrored by Laurie Bejoian, who says that the great thing about Evening at Pops is that the patients, families, and physicians can come together outside of the office.

Diagnosed with diabetes at the age of six, Laurie will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of her diagnosis at the Evening at Pops event. Having chaired the Evening at Pops committee for 10 years, Laurie says being honored at the actual event means a lot to her.

Laurie has been in and out of Joslin since she was diagnosed as a child. “Where else would you go?” she says, “You need to go to the people who have expertise.” She currently serves as a member of the Leadership Council and as a Joslin Overseer. Through these experiences at Joslin, Laurie says she has met the most amazing people and developed a new family.

Laurie looks back at 50 years in the making. She remembers that when she was first diagnosed her parents were told that her lifespan would be shortened. Laurie is proud to say that with all the technological and medical advances happening at Joslin, the 100 year medal is now a foreseeable goal. She says nothing is out of reach. 

Laurie’s positive attitude towards her diabetes comes from her mom, whom she calls her inspiration. Laurie was taught at a young age to take ownership over her diabetes, giving herself her own injections at age six. She says taking control over her diabetes was very empowering. To Laurie having diabetes is just part of who she is. “It’s just a trait, like having red hair,” she says, “and you just have to live with the cards you’re dealt.” And while she has had some rough patches, Laurie says that she is “here and blessed.”

Laurie looks ahead to her next 50 years with the similar optimism, “it’s joyous,” she says. She views her 50th anniversary as a milestone, and the beginning of a new phase of her life. This is certainly cause for celebration, and to Laurie there is no better way to do so than with the Joslin community at the Evening at Pops event.

This year’s program will showcase the music of American composers, including homegrown masters like Bernstein, Copland, and Ellington, in addition to Leroy Anderson's Piano Concerto with special guest Michael Chertock as soloist. Rounding out the program are movie themes from E.T. and Harry Potter by the Pops very own John Williams, as well as "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "Dancing Queen."

All proceeds from the evening will go towards the High Hopes Fund, which supports Joslin’s integration of cutting-edge research towards finding a cure, clinical care and education for those living with diabetes and their families, and hope for a world free of diabetes and its complications.

Learn more about how you can donate to the High Hopes Fund and contribute to the fight against diabetes.

Page last updated: November 26, 2014