This Mystery Disease Is Targeted by the Lift a Life Foundation

In an America struggling with the challenges produced by sedentary lifestyles, limited health-care access, and poor nutrition, it's not surprising that diabetes is on the rise. What is surprising, even to many in the medical research field, is that type 1 diabetes — the kind that is often, though not always, diagnosed in children, with no known cause — is becoming more common as well.

Why? It's not clear. After all, it's hard to explain an increase in a phenomenon without an understanding of the causal factors. Regardless, certain facts are indisputable: Type 1 diabetes is being diagnosed more often, and the country needs more resources to treat this illness in children to prevent them from developing more severe diabetes-related complications later in life.

Recognizing a need for type 1 diabetes care in the region, Kentucky's Lift a Life Foundation has donated $5 million to the Kosair Children's Hospital of Louisville to create a center devoted to treating children with type 1 diabetes.

Based in Louisville, the Lift a Life Foundation was established in 1999 through a charitable trust by David and Wendy Novak. (Incidentally, Kosair's new diabetes treatment center is named for Wendy Novak.) David Novak is the CEO of Yum! Brands, a fast-food operating and licensing company with recognizable subsidiaries such as KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell.

The Lift a Life Foundation provides support to Kentucky-based non-profit organizations in the areas of hunger, education, youth diabetes, and youth wellness generally. The foundation's grants generally range in value from $5,000 to $100,000. Information on the grant application process is here.

For its part, the Kosair Children's Hospital has been stressed in recent years by the rising demand for type 1 diabetes treatments. Kosair reports that it has seen a 20% increase in hospital admissions for type 1 since 2008. Kosair's new Wendy Novak Diabetes Care Center will add new staff, medical equipment, family educational resources, and improved facilities for inpatient and outpatient care.

Lynnie Meyer, executive director of the Kosair Children's Hospital Foundation, is optimistic that the hospital's new diabetes facilities will improve health outcomes for the more than 1,200 children with type 1 diabetes that it serves annually. Says Meyer in a Kosair press release, "The gift will advance treatment and reduce complications so that, as children grow into adulthood, they aren't facing critical complications."