14 Oct Passion with a purpose
A grandchild’s diagnosis results in a world-class care center for our community
When Dick and Mary Allen’s granddaughter, Hannah, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 2, it altered the course of their lives. Knowing the gravity of the condition, the Allens committed to learning everything they could about the disease and what would be needed to care for Hannah. Most importantly, they also learned how she could learn to care for herself so she could live as healthy and normal a life as possible.
This quest turned into a passion to make life easier for Hannah and for everyone living with Type 1 diabetes —especially those lacking access to proper medical care or without adequate resources to successfully manage the disease. What they learned in the process spurred the Allens to action, culminating in the launch of the Mary and Dick Allen Diabetes Center at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach.
The Allen Diabetes Center has been life-changing for local residents battling diabetes, bringing best-in-class care and education opportunities and making them available to all in need.
The term diabetes describes a group of metabolic diseases marked by high blood sugar that affects nearly 26 million people in the United States, according to the National Diabetes Association. While diabetes ranges in severity and the type of care required, Type 1 diabetes is the most debilitating of the group. It’s caused by the body’s inability to produce insulin, and those with the disease must either inject insulin or wear an insulin pump.
“After Hannah’s diagnosis, we quickly learned what people with Type 1 deal with 24/7,” says Dick Allen. “And they will continue to have to do it until there is a cure. Before the discovery of insulin, people with Type 1 died. Now it’s manageable, but the vigilance must be constant.”
Allen’s dedication to care and education for diabetics continued to grow even beyond the center at Hoag, and he is now the chairman of the international board of JDRF – formerly the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
“I can’t think of anything more important to be doing at this stage of my life,” he says. “My wife is on our local board, and she’s every bit as active as I am. We’re in this until the end. We’re in until we find a cure. We want to look Hannah in the eye when that day comes and tell her that we did everything we could to help put an end to this terrible disease.”
Allen praises the power of philanthropy driven by personal passion: “People give where their hearts are. It’s an incredibly important component to philanthropy, in my opinion. People want to make a difference. Philanthropy isn’t about giving money away, it’s about finding a way to make a difference in someone’s life.”
Shelley Hoss is president of the Orange County Community Foundation. She can be reached at email@example.com
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