Barbara Davis was terrified. “Our fifth child, Dana, was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes when she was 7 years old. Marvin and I took Dana to Boston’s Joslin Diabetes Clinic for treatment. I was so impressed with Joslin that Marvin said, ‘How would you like it if I gave you a million dollars to build a hospital out West like the Joslin?’ “
In 1980, the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes opened its doors in Denver, and today, the hospital is one of the largest diabetic research and care centers in the world.
“No child is turned away because of an inability to pay,” states Davis. “The Center covers all costs — treatments and supplies. We do kidney and pancreas transplants too.
“And we try to treat everybody as an outpatient. We want everybody to go home and know how to live with diabetes,” she adds.
On Oct. 23, Jay Leno will host the Grande Dame of all Hollywood fundraisers: The 19th Carousel of Hope.
“Everyone has their own causes, but Barbara’s is the big one,” says Leno, who emcees the fundraiser for the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes. “Rich people eating isn’t always the best audience for a comedian but, on the other hand, it’s everybody you know. It’s kind of like a high school party with money.”
Davis is a maestro of the seating chart.
“Barbara’s very smart,” says Leno. “She’ll have Betty Ford and Justin Bieber at one table. Nancy Reagan and Snoop Dogg at another. Everybody is completely the same to Barbara.”
Clive Davis, along with Quincy Jones and David Foster, will handle the music for the gala. “Over the years, Barbara has leaned on me for advice,” says Davis. “I have been able to help her with artists like Whitney (Houston) or Usher. I help her to keep topping herself.”
Leno recalls: “One evening, we had the Clintons lined up. They were still in the White House. But then Bill had to cancel at the last minute. Barbara said, ‘I’m so upset.’ I said, ‘Look Barbara, if it’s any consolation to you, just think of yourself as the last girl that got screwed by Clinton before he left office.’ She thought that was the funniest thing ever.”
For more information, visit barbaradaviscenter.org.