Home » Kosair Children’s Hospital gets $5 million gift to create Wendy Novak Diabetes Care Center

Kosair Children’s Hospital gets $5 million gift to create Wendy Novak Diabetes Care Center

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (March 6, 2013) – A $5 million gift from the Lift a Life Foundation to the Children’s Hospital Foundation will establish the Wendy L. Novak Diabetes Care Center at Kosair Children’s Hospital.

Established in 1999 through a charitable trust by David and Wendy Novak, the Lift a Life Foundation provides innovative grants to nonprofit partners serving Kentucky. The gift is part of a $12 million initiative that will fund the creation of a state-of-the-art comprehensive diabetes care center to offer education and treatment of Type 1 diabetes, previously known as juvenile diabetes. The gift also will provide support to hire additional staff including a physician, diabetes educators and nurse practitioner specialists; enhance medical, technological and educational resources and programs available to families; and improve inpatient and outpatient care facilities.

“This is a great opportunity to do something that can give children with Type 1 diabetes in our region a chance at a healthier future,” said David Novak, founder of the Lift a Life Foundation and chairman and chief executive officer of Yum! Brands, headquartered in Louisville. “Our family has been affected by Type 1 diabetes, and we felt this was an opportunity to build one of the best diabetes care centers in the country.”

“Thanks to the generosity of the Novaks and the Lift a Life Foundation, we have a unique opportunity to improve the care we can provide to children with diabetes,” said Lynnie Meyer, MSN, R.N., CFRE, executive director of the Children’s Hospital Foundation. “We’ll now have the ability to provide more advanced programming and education aimed at helping families better manage their child’s diabetes.”

More than 1,200 children are currently being treated for Type 1 diabetes by specialists at Kosair Children’s Hospital and the University of Louisville. Approximately 150 children are diagnosed each year, of whom nearly 50 percent require hospitalization in the “Just for Kids” Critical Care Center at Kosair Children’s Hospital.

“We’ve seen a 20 percent increase in hospital admissions due to Type 1 diabetes since 2008,” said Kupper A. Wintergerst, M.D., pediatric endocrinologist at Kosair Children’s Hospital, director of the Wendy L. Novak Diabetes Care Center and associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Louisville School of Medicine. “The incidence of Type 1 diabetes is showing no sign of slowing here or across the world.”

Type 1 diabetes usually is diagnosed in children and young adults, and occurs when cells in the pancreas, damaged by the immune system, produce little or no insulin. Insulin is necessary for moving blood sugar into cells for storage and use as energy. When the body does not make enough insulin, the blood sugar builds up and cannot turn into energy. While no one knows the exact cause, this autoimmune disorder can be fatal if not properly treated.

Type 1 diabetes differs from Type 2 diabetes, which is more commonly diagnosed in adults. In Type 2, the body becomes resistant to the insulin it produces, often due to weight gain, poor diet and lack of activity. Ultimately, this results in high blood sugars as well. People with Type 1 diabetes must test their blood sugar five or more times per day. Treatment includes taking multiple insulin injections or using an insulin pump every day, along with maintaining proper diet and exercise. There is currently no cure.

“The lifespan of children with Type 1 diabetes is no longer a few weeks or a few years,” Dr. Wintergerst said. “The important thing we need to work on is better blood sugar control to reduce the severe complications of diabetes, such as blindness, kidney damage, and cardiovascular and nerve disease.

“It’s not just about living, it’s about living healthy, happier lives and reducing the negative impact that diabetes has on each child’s daily life.”

The estimated cost of Type 1 diabetes care in the United States is $14.4 billion per year according to the CNA’s Center for Health Research and Policy, Alexandria, Va.

“The key to preventing complications is funding for educators who will work with families so that they can manage their child’s diabetes,” Meyer said. “This gift will advance treatment and reduce complications so that as children grow into adulthood, they aren’t facing critical complications.”

“The Lift a Life Foundation exists to provide individuals in need the opportunity to reach their full potential,” said Ashley Novak Butler, director, Lift a Life Foundation. “Helping children manage their diabetes and avoid the devastating complications of the disease will help them meet, and hopefully exceed, their expectations for a full and healthy life. We can’t think of a better result from an investment.”

“Type 1 diabetes has been on the rise for the past 50 years and is growing annually, especially in younger age groups,” Dr. Wintergerst said. “This gift provides an incredible opportunity for our community and state to develop a premier center for care, education and clinical research focused on improving the lives of countless children living with diabetes.”


The Lift a Life Foundation was established in 1999 by David and Wendy Novak to help individuals and families in need reach their full potential. The Foundation helps alleviate the financial, physical, emotional, and educational burdens that hold people back from achieving their dreams and making a positive difference in society. The Foundation focuses on creative partnerships that make a lasting impact in the primary areas of hunger relief, education, juvenile diabetes, as well as family and youth issues. Since Lift a Life Foundation began, it has helped thousands of people in need through grants and programming support. David Novak is Chairman and CEO of Yum! Brands, the world’s largest restaurant company with nearly 38,000 KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut restaurants in over 120 countries and territories, and author of The New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling book, “Taking People With You: The Only Way to Make BIG Things Happen.” He has been recognized as “2012 CEO of the Year” by Chief Executive magazine, one of the world’s “30 Best CEOs” by Barron’s for the past two years, one of the “Top People in Business” by FORTUNE and one of the “100 Best-Performing CEOs in the World” by Harvard Business Review. He is also the recipient of the national 2008 Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship and is on the board of directors of the Yum! Brands Foundation and World Food Program USA. Wendy Novak is a lifelong philanthropist and volunteer, serving on the board of directors for the Kentucky Chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.