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.

JDRF Walk To Cure Diabetes

There are 1,100 parking spaces at Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield in North Haven. They were all full for today’s “Walk To Cure Diabetes.” A back of the envelope estimate says 3-4,000 people showed up!

That’s pretty good, considering the weather was awful. There were showers before, during and after the event. From time-to-time there were even downpours.

I love going to this event because I get to meet the people I’m trying to help.

Though there was a research setback reported last week, I still think juvenile diabetes can be eliminated, as polio and smallpox have been eliminated.

Here’s the article. Read past the headline, the bad news is in the last two paragraphs. The good news that led the article had been out for a while.

I am the celebrity chairman of this walk. I don’t know exactly what that means, except I give away my bosses airtime promoting the event, say hello to a lot of people during the event and shake a lot of hands.

The photo attached to this entry is a typical shot and I took a few dozen today. I don’t know the name of the totally soaked guy I’m with, but I was pointing to his tattoo in a bit of good natured fun and he was pleased I was.

This year’s walk was special in another way. Helaine came with me. As much as I enjoy the spotlight, Helaine avoids it.

I am very lucky to be able to help JDRF in a quantifiable way. No one at work tells me or even asks me to do this. I just know it’s right, and it makes me feel good. It couldn’t be any simpler.

Waking up early (for me) on a Sunday morning to stand out in the rain has never been more rewarding.

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