Jose Gabriel's Story...


In 1984, José Gabriel, a six-month-old boy in Quito, Ecuador, went into a coma and was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Despite the efforts of his parents, both of whom were physicians, José could not stay healthy. His parents spent most of the family's income on insulin, but to no avail. Eight years later José lapsed into another coma. With no other option, his family was able to bring their child to the U.S. for treatment where they soon discovered that “a lack of diabetes education can be just as dangerous as a lack of insulin.”


AYUDA was founded in 1997 by two GDS high school teenagers, Nick Cuttriss and Jesse Fuchs- Simon, with a vision inspired by the plight of José Gabriel. AYUDA’s work initially grew out of Ecuador and then expanded to other parts of Latin America and then the world. Nick and Jesse initially received seed funding from Ashoka’s Youth Venture while in high school.


Since then, AYUDA has grown significantly in capacity and reach to become an organization that is recognized as an international leader in the development and delivery of diabetes education, advocacy and youth empowerment programs. AYUDA’s successful growth is a product of the diligence and dedication of its volunteers. AYUDA selects volunteers (with and without diabetes) from a competitive pool of high school, university, and graduate students throughout the United States and abroad for an extensive semester training and outreach program to benefit youth living with diabetes. Since 1997, AYUDA has trained over 500 volunteers who have served in over 20 countries. The volunteer program is distinguished for its excellence by the International Volunteer Program Association and has been recognized for social entrepreneurship and innovation by Ashoka, the World Bank as a 2007 Development Marketplace Finalist, and the United Nations as an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (UNESCO).