Charitable Family Affair

Last night was the annual Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Gala. I was the emcee. It’s the one guaranteed time every year to wear my tuxedo.

If you would have asked me in 1979 (when I owned a single knit tie to go with my one corduroy sport coat with elbow patches) if I’d someday wear a tuxedo, the answer would have been emphatically “No!” I was wrong.

This year was different for a few reasons. The gala moved from New Haven to Cromwell, and Helaine was on the committee making all the preparations.

Last night’s honoree was Dr. David Katz. He’s often seen on GMA and with Oprah.

Too good looking. Too young. Too smart. Too successful. Not that I’m judgmental.

The gala starts with a silent auction, then dinner, followed by a live auction and other fund raising tricks. After all, the whole idea of the night is to raise money for JDRF. In between, a disk jockey (Johnny Rozz) played. After dinner, “British Beat,” a Beatles tribute band, took over.

I’m not sure how Helaine and the others were able to get all of this together, but they did. It’s quite an undertaking, yet it was flawless.

My JDRF involvement is special to me. It’s all about the kids. Let it sound trite. I don’t care. They tear at my heart.

People think diabetes and then insulin. Insulin isn’t a cure, it’s a treatment. But often, even while following doctor’s orders, diabetes will extract a toll. I’m not going to present a list of common problems here. Suffice it to say, a diabetic child loses 10-15 years of life.

sophie-geoff.jpgI thought of that when I brought on Sophie Baum. She’s just 8, but she spoke to the all adult crowd.

Grown-ups dread public speaking. Not Sophie. She was flawless, with incredible presence. The room was silent with every eye on her. She didn’t flinch.

As is often the case, Sophie’s parents found out she was diabetic in a hospital emergency room. I have heard these horror stories before.

Your child is sick. You’re worried she’ll die. Instead you’re left with a life sentence. And when a child has diabetes, it’s a full time family responsibility.

We have cured polio and smallpox. Can’t the same happen with diabetes?

There is research underway now that shows great promise. I really believe a cure is getting close. It would be nice to think, a dollar I helped raise was the one that bought the research that found the cure.