Upping the ante is something that Gary Loveman and Kathleen Welsh know a lot about—Gary is CEO of Harrah's Entertainment, Inc., in Las Vegas.
In November 2004, the couple, who live in Massachusetts, leveraged their philanthropic spirit and entertainment expertise to up the ante for a special cause. As Co-Chairs of Joslin Diabetes Center's 5th Annual High Hopes Gala, Gary and Kathleen helped raise more than $1 million—breaking the record for this annual black-tie event that generates critical funding for the Center.
Diabetes is personal for Gary and Kathleen. Kathleen first learned about the disease at age 10 when she befriended a classmate with type 1 diabetes. Her classmate's father also had diabetes, and then Kathleen's cousin was diagnosed with it as well. But that was only the start.
When Kathleen was pregnant with the couple's third child, she was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, which occurs during pregnancy, but is also a warning sign for potential type 2 diabetes later on. "Because of close monitoring by me and my doctors, I had no complications," she recalls. But the diagnosis also raised concerns for others in her family. "I read up on the disease as much as I could," she says, and learned that type 2 diabetes commonly runs in families. "I urged my parents to get tested," Kathleen remembers, but to no avail.
Nine months later, her father had a heart attack. "Further medical investigation revealed that he had been quietly suffering from type 2 diabetes for an estimated 30 years," she recalls. "The untreated diabetes caused the narrowing of his arteries, which caused the heart attack." Fortunately, her father recovered and began receiving care for his diabetes.
After her child was born and she no longer had gestational diabetes, Kathleen successfully prevented the onset of type 2 diabetes for three years through diet and exercise. At that point she was diagnosed with the disease and began taking medications, but remains vigilant about her health. "So far, I have been lucky enough to not be on insulin and to prevent possible complications from the disease," she says. She credits her success to meticulous self-management, her medical team's involvement and "some new medications that were developed in the last decade." Kathleen never underestimates the importance of scientific progress. "A generation ago, my family's diabetes history would have had a different ending."
The Right Thing to Do
Gary and Kathleen joined with Joslin because they appreciate Joslin's expertise. "I have always believed in acting responsibly toward the many audiences my work and life touch," says Gary. "It is simply the right thing to do."
Gary and Kathleen's dedication was demonstrated by the grandeur of the 2004 High Hopes Gala, "Unraveling the Mysteries of Diabetes." The event, held at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel, included performances by top Las Vegas entertainers Clint Holmes and popular magician Mac King. Guests dined on a special meal prepared by the U.S. Culinary Olympic Team. Throughout the evening, attendees bid on spectacular silent and live auction items and participated in a contest to win a one-carat diamond pendant.
Fun was had by all, but the real satisfaction for Gary and Kathleen came in knowing that their commitment and generosity helped raise the ante for the High Hopes Gala, resulting in $1,038,817 to help people with diabetes.
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Page last updated: April 25, 2014