Born in Chicago in 1936, John J. McDonough was six years old when he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D). With insulin still in its first, imperfect form, doctors sent young John home without a long-term prognosis. His determination to control the disease is what helped him defy the odds.
With that same level of determination, John graduated with honors from the University of Notre Dame and has led a highly successful career in business and finance spanning more than 50 years and several industries: manufacturing, marketing, medical and dental products, and telecommunications. He has held top-level management and board positions in companies such as Litton Medical Products, American Television and Communications Corporation, Blount International, and Newell Company. He has also founded and owned several businesses over the course of his career, including National Telecommunication Services, Gendex Corporation, and McDonough Medical Products Corporation.
It was the diagnosis of his daughter, Allison, with T1D in 1983 that led John to take a driving interest in moving T1D research forward. He served as chairman of JDRF’s International Board of Directors from 1998 to 2000; has been a member of the Executive Committee and various special committees of the board; is the founding chairman of JDRF’s BETA Society; co-chaired JDRF’s Research Partnership Program; and is a member of the Board of Chancellors. In 1999, John and Allison testified before Congress at JDRF Children’s Congress in Washington, D.C. The McDonough Family Foundation has provided millions of dollars for T1D research, establishing, among other initiatives, the JDRF Center for Islet Transplantation at The University of Chicago.
John and his wife, Marilyn, reside in Lake Forest, IL, and have five children and eight grandchildren. The family’s shared resolve to fight the physical and emotional demands of T1D has grown stronger through numerous challenges. In 1998, John lost a leg to T1D complications. Last winter, his good friend and fellow JDRF benefactor Ron Santo passed away. Marilyn’s devotion to the care of John’s health is an inspiration to countless parents, spouses, and families who also work diligently to watch over loved ones living with this disease. John and Marilyn founded the JDRF Florida Suncoast Chapter’s annual Hope Gala in Naples, FL in 2007.
Now at 75 years of age, John is marking his 70th year living with TID—a remarkable milestone. He has witnessed and experienced firsthand the many medical advances and accomplishments that JDRF has helped bring about. John’s life serves as a beacon of hope—a living example that, with careful attention and unwavering perseverance, all children and adults living with T1D can live rich, full lives.