On November 15 at 12:30 PM, the entire Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center community is invited to the Big Apple Circus at Lincoln Center for the continued celebration of the 15th Anniversary of the Berrie Center. The event has been generously underwritten by friends and sponsors; and half of the 1610 seats under the big top will be provided to Berrie Center patients and families who would not otherwise be able to come. All remaining revenue from ticket sales will help support the clinical and research programs at the Berrie Center.
But first, a drumroll please for Paul B. Healy, Berrie Center Advisory Board member and volunteer extraordinaire, who conceived and co-produced the upcoming Big Apple Circus event. “We’ve envisioned a safe, care-free, all inclusive, fun-filled day, where the entire community can come out and celebrate the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center,” said Paul, a 52-year-old investment banker turned serial entrepreneur. Paul, who has type 2 diabetes (T2D) and receives care at the Berrie Center says, “All of us in New York with diabetes are fortunate to have one of the most respected diabetes research and care centers in the world, right in our own backyard.”
The idea for the event began percolating last year, when, on the occasion of the Berrie Center’s 15th anniversary, a group of volunteer leaders (including Paul) formed a committee to work on special events. Paul, once tapped by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to help advise the Board of the Big Apple Circus, a leading nonprofit institution in the City —has been a fan of the now popular, Lincoln Center destination and attraction ever since.
Energetic and urbane, Paul is also superb at what he does. As the chair of the Big Apple Circus committee, he assembled a team of dedicated volunteers, to spread the word and raise awareness and funds for the November 15 event. Before tickets went on sale, Paul and committee had already secured the donations to cover the cost of producing the event. With help from a devoted development and outreach team at the Berrie Center and Columbia University, Paul’s dream of a major “Friend Raiser” for the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center, where an entire community of patients and families can participate, will soon be reality. (All the circus food will be accompanied by carb counts and every family will leave with a souvenir from the day.)
Paul grew up in North Dakota where he began to develop a head for business (his father was a banker) and a heart for philanthropy; his mother, he recalled, “cared about everything—churches, libraries, schools, colleges. I’m definitely my mother’s son.” But Paul also inherited a family predisposition for T2D. His mother a Christian Scientist who had T2D and never sought treatment, passed away from diabetes complications.
But Paul had a different strategy for handling T2D. Since he first started coming for care at the Berrie Center four years ago, Paul has stopped smoking cigarettes, started an exercise regimen, lost 25 pounds and enrolled in an NIH study of treatment options for T2D called GRADE (Glycemia Reduction Approaches in Diabetes: Comparative Effectiveness Study).
“If you have type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes, it’s not always easy to see all the reasons to be thankful,” said Paul, the Berrie Center’s optimist-in-chief. “There are research breakthroughs happening right here in our laboratories to cure this disease. And until the cure, the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center is committed to the kind of care that has been improving the lives of people for the last 15 years. That’s cause for celebration.”
And now, let the circus begin!