Diabetes Forecast

Honoring Dads

Paul Tyrell finds extra meaning in this year's Father of the Year ceremonies

By Lindsey Wahowiak ,

Paul Tyrell and baby Andrew.

Paul Tyrell has been a dedicated organizer of the American Diabetes Association's Father of the Year Awards for more than eight years. This year, however, was particularly meaningful for him: It was his first as a father himself.

Tyrell, 39, a San Diego attorney, has served as chair of his local Father of the Year Awards since 2003, when a friend and coworker, former ADA national board chairman Todd Leigh, suggested he get involved. Tyrell, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 12, was ready to honor standout dads and raise money for the ADA. He says his own father, Leo Tyrell, was the inspiration for his involvement. "I had a great dad who was really involved in my life. He was a great role model for me. [And] it's a terrific cause," Paul Tyrell says. "It was the natural fit, as a diabetes fund-raiser. This one really spoke to me."

Father of the Year Awards ceremonies are held across the country, mostly in June. The events are collaborations between the ADA and the nonprofit National Father's Day Council to raise money for the ADA and honor local men who have made major differences in their families and communities.

This year's award ceremonies came as Tyrell celebrated his first Father's Day as a new dad. He and his wife, Jennifer, welcomed baby Andrew in November. "It definitely changes your priorities," Tyrell says of fatherhood. "I've always been the kind of person who comes in early and stays late. Now I've managed to find more ways to get home earlier, work from home, so I can spend more time with the little guy while he's awake and alert."

Leigh, a longtime supporter of the ADA, says he believed eight years ago that Tyrell was the perfect person to organize San Diego's first Father of the Year Awards. Now that Tyrell is a dad, Leigh believes he has an even deeper connection to the ceremony and its honorees. "He was always a family guy, and he recognized the benefits of fatherhood, but now he's a firsthand recipient, in the middle of fatherhood now for sure," Leigh says. "I think he has a greater appreciation for what it means to be a dad and the responsibilities that go with that."

Tyrell's experience of living with type 1 diabetes makes him a natural at sharing his story while seeking donations to further the ADA's work, says Elizabeth Jinks, associate director of the ADA's San Diego office. She has worked closely with him on the Father of the Year Awards.

"Paul's leadership goes beyond the dollars he has helped to raise, the large Father of the Year audiences he has maintained, or his contribution to Father of the Year at the national level," she says. "People share their diabetes story because he does, and they want to participate and volunteer with ADA because of him."



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