ROCKY RIVER, Ohio (WJW) – Rocky River mom Shannon Vance is using her voice, being as loud as she can to advocate for change in the pharmaceutical industry – lowering costs and improving access to an emergency supply of insulin for people with Type 1 diabetes.

“No parent should have to suffer the loss of their child because of something that is 100 percent avoidable,” Vance said.

Gavin Gill was just 22 years old when he passed away. He was a rugby player at Ohio State, on a full academic scholarship, and a Buckeye graduate. He was also a Camp Christopher counselor, a role he loved to serve. His mom said he was ready to take on the financial world in Chicago.

An avid traveler, Gill always carried his insulin, meter, test strips, needles, and glucose tabs nearby. But while on a trip last year, his fanny pack went missing, presumably stolen when he set it down.

His request for new medicine was not met in time to save his life.

“His doctor got back to him; he called her Friday afternoon,” Vance said. “For whatever reason it wasn’t put through as an emergency situation. She got back to him first thing Monday morning, and he died Sunday afternoon.”

Heartbroken and devastated, Vance searched for answers, but nothing could replace the rugby player-sized hole in her heart. So, she decided to channel his ever-positive nature and advocate for change.

“These people and kids should be able to walk into a pharmacy and purchase their life-saving medicine and supplies,” she said. “This country is failing them. The rich are getting richer, and beautiful, kind, wonderful people are dying because of it.”

For months lawmakers have been pushing to cap insulin prices to $35 per month, and some companies are following suit. Eli Lilly cut prices by 70 percent on March 1, 2023. But Vance and Congress are asking for uniform market change.

Kaiser Family Foundation research shows that the average American Medicare Part D insulin user spent $54 per month in 2020, that’s 50 percent more than the proposed $35 cap. Other insulin products were much more expensive.

“I don’t care whether you’re a democrat or republican, independent, whatever you are; all over this country, people are saying enough is enough,” U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders said on Wednesday. “They are sick and tired of paying outrageously high prices, not only for insulin but other products as well.”

Sanders invited Vance to hear pharmaceutical industry CEOs testimonies on plans for price strategy for insulin and other essential diabetic medicine.

Vance knows there is a lot of work to be done, but promises to be as loud as she can, just like her son, to make a change that helps save lives.

“The opposite of hate is love,” Vance said. “I just want more love surrounded by this effort. There’s no reason that people with Type 1, Type 2 should have to suffer to get their medicine.”

The Gavin Gill Scholarship Foundation was set up to keep Gill’s positive influence on campers alive. Not only does the foundation award two $7,000 scholarships to Rocky River students, but it also covers fees with a ‘Campership’ for students with Type 1 diabetes.

Slots are still available and more information can be found on the foundation website here.