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Every two years, A-listers such as Quincy Jones, Clive Davis, Jane Fonda and Sydney Poitier flock to The Beverly Hilton for the Carousel of Hope Ball. The event began when Barbara Davis learned her daughter Dana had Type 1 diabetes and she started the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes in Denver, Colorado. This year, Jay Leno will emcee the program honoring Magic Johnson along with performances by Babyface, Jennifer Hudson and Josh Groban. Davis talked with THR about how she plans the ritzy fundraiser that has been called the number one charity event in the U.S.
Is there a memorable moment from the Carousel of Hope Ball that stands out to you?
A great moment was when Neil Diamond, who was singing on the floor, walked up to George Clooney and the two of them sang together. Every woman in the room died.
Also, one year at the Ball my daughter Nancy was nine months pregnant when her water broke. At the same time that was happening, the cleaning fluid from the leather pants Lionel Richie was wearing heated up when he was performing and burned him. I thought it was part of his act. But he had horrible burns so we went off to the hospital with a burned Lionel and Nancy giving birth. Henry Kissinger came along in the ambulance. Really, he did. When we got to the hospital nobody looked at Nancy. Everybody wanted to see the naked Lionel Richie taking a cold shower.
Why did you decide to honor Magic Johnson this year?
Magic Johnson represents the importance of exercise. With diabetes you can’t be a couch potato. Plus, he’s absolutely adorable; a great businessman and when have you ever seen him without a smile?
What do you think makes your Carousel of Hope Ball so successful?
Make every phone call yourself. I do it until I see people running away in the other direction
Do you have any new goals for your hospital in Colorado?
We’re reaching out to Mexico to train some of their doctors so that they can take the knowledge that we have back there and treat their patients. In Colorado, we treat over 7,000 patients and they come from all over the world. Our arms are open to everybody whether they can pay or not.
Hopefully on Saturday nobody will pass out like Jerry Buss did one year.
It was really a scare. Oprah stood up and said, “Stop the entertainment. We need a doctor.” Luckily, at a fundraiser for diabetes you have a lot of doctors in the room. First a dermatologist came over; then a gynecologist, but it was when the paramedics got there that Jerry woke up. And he decided to stay in the room. He was happy; Oprah was happy and I was even happier.
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