Turning Type One into Type None
Photo by Jon Keeling
Founded in 1970, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Southwest Ohio chapter team is aiming to raise over $3.6 million this year to fund research that will lead to finding a cure for Type 1 diabetes.
“We are a small team and really rely on our army of dedicated volunteers,” says Melissa Newman, the executive director of JDRF Southwest Ohio. “There’s no way we could accomplish this without them. They really manage to put together some of what are honestly the most amazing events in the city each year.”
One such event is their annual gala which will be held at the Duke Energy Center on Saturday, May 12. In terms of quality and guests’ enthusiasm, JDRF is in a very elite league. Last year’s gala raised nearly $1.5 million, making it one of the most successful nonprofit fundraising events in the region.
“This year’s theme is ‘Carnivale for the Cure’ and we have been working Rio-inspired flavor into every element of the event,” says Newman. “The ballroom will have guests feeling like they’re in a Brazilian rainforest and we may even have on hand a live snake or two. There will be live entertainment like samba music and other performances. We all work really hard to be sure we wow every guest in the room.”
The gala not only raises money, but also serves as an honor to one member of our community who has an outstanding record for volunteering and helping others.
“We’re excited to honor Rich Boehne as the Cincinnatian of the Year,” says Newman. “Rich recently retired as CEO of the The E.W. Scripps Company, but is still incredibly involved in both the business world and he’s committed to bettering our community. It’s really incredible to see all of the things he’s done for our region throughout his impressive career.
“Rich has supported so many local causes and is incredibly deserving of this honor. Anyone who knows Rich can’t say enough about what a kind, generous and authentic person he is.”
Newman admits that it will be hard to top 2017’s million-and-a-half-dollar night.
“Organizing one of Cincinnati’s biggest galas is incredibly challenging,” explains Newman. “We always strive to beat last year’s fundraising record and top our own effort from last year in terms of the guest experience, them and entertainment. Fortunately, we have a powerhouse team of not just our honoree Rich Boehne, but also volunteers and past honorees like George Vincent, Dave Dougherty and Dan Schimberg, as well as our amazing gala chair Petra Vester. They will all do whatever it takes to help us to exceed our goals.”
Until a person or someone they care about is diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, many may not know much about the disease.
“Many people get confused between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes,” says Newman. “Type 1 is an autoimmune disease that has nothing at all to do with diet or lifestyle choices. It can strike anyone at any time.
“Another misconception of Type 1 diabetes is that it’s just a kids’ disease. In fact, about half of new diagnoses are in adults, and I personally know many people who have been diagnosed at age 40 or 50.”
JDRF of Southwest Ohio’s quest is to fund a cure for Type 1 diabetes through fundraising events planned throughout the year.
“A few weeks after the gala, we will hang up our gowns and tuxedos and put on our shorts, t-shirts and sneakers for the JDRF One Walk Kings Island on Saturday, June 2,” smiles Newman. “Last year we had record attendance of 7,000 people and our goal is make this a million-dollar walk.”
Other events include the educational diabetes conference
TypeOneNation Summit in November, the JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes bike ride and the always-popular Bourbon and Bowtie Bash.
“I always welcome anyone, whether or not they have a connection to Type 1 diabetes, to get involved,” says Newman. “We embrace and cherish our volunteers, for they truly are the heart of everything we do. We often refer to our volunteer community as the ‘JDRF family’ because it truly feels like we are family. There’s honestly nothing else like it out there.
“If someone would like to find out more and learn what JDRF is all about, they can attend one of our quarterly ‘Be the One’ volunteer info sessions. Hopefully we will continue to find more passionate volunteers who can contribute to our mission of hosting amazing events to fund research to find a cure for Type 1 diabetes.”
Cincinnatian of the Year
Rich Boehne has always been a man that has always had a number of different titles: journalist, philanthropist, husband, farmhand, volunteer, NKU grad and CEO. And this year, we can add Cincinnatian of the Year to the list.
His kindness and support of the Greater Cincinnati region hasn’t gone unnoticed and Boehne will be honored at the upcoming Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) gala on May 12. Boehne has given his time as a dedicated volunteer and his treasure as a compassionate donor to dozens of organizations serving our communities.
“I grew up among lots of kind and generous people and I hope they rubbed off on me at least a little,” says Boehne. “But when it comes to generosity, I don’t really count. It’s easy to give away money when you’ve been absurdly blessed like me.
“The hardworking folks that surrounded me when I was young were truly generous. They gave when it hurt and when it required sacrifice. I really admired them and knew they cared for all the right reasons. I learned a lot from them and hope to measure up to their examples.”
Native to Northern Kentucky, Boehne has been committed to developing and bettering his community and has had numerous outstanding accomplishments.
“Looking back, I would say I’m most proud that my wife, Lisa, and I are the same people that we were when we met nearly 40 years ago,” remembers Boehne. “Our shared passion for free speech, accessible education and a commitment to uplifting our less-fortunate neighbors will hopefully be the elements of our story when we’re gone.”
Boehne began his career as a journalist and eventually as a business and economics reporter for the Cincinnati Post.
“It was fantastic,” says Boehne. “I was reporting from places like the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, corporate boardrooms and the press briefing room at the White House. It was my dream job.”
Soon, Boehne was offered a job by Scripps to build their investor base after the company went public in 1988 and was part of their strategic planning team.
“A few years later a friend of mine at Scripps, a former radio DJ named Ken Lowe, had an idea for a cable network – HGTV,” remembers Boehne. “I then spent the next 13 years supporting the buildout of HGTV and the Food Network while revamping Scripps to be a broader television company.
“In 1999 and 2000, the company was turned over to our stewardship when I was elected executive vice president and Ken was named CEO. We grew and expanded the company and, in 2008, we convinced the board that Scripps should be two companies. I was promoted from COO to CEO of The E.W. Scripps Company and Ken became CEO of the new Scripps Networks Interactive.”
Before retiring in 2017, Boehne accomplished much during his tenure as CEO.
“We made the painful decision to exit the newspaper business, which allowed us to then expand our television operations,” says Boehne. “We also built a millennials news network called Newsy and became the leader in commercial podcasting. We also purchased four over-the-air TV networks for the growing number of cord-cutting viewers.”
Even though Boehne is retired, he still serves as chairman of the board and hasn’t given up being a staunch advocate for free speech.
“The Scripps motto is ‘Give light and the people will find their own way,’” says Boehne. “When I talk to employees, I always focus on the two words ‘their own.’ It’s not our job to tell people what to think and do; it’s our job as journalists to illuminate the world so people can find their own way by making their own choices and decisions.
“The free press faces challenges that are growing by the day. But through my roles at Scripps and the Associated Press, I’m reminded that the burden is on us to demonstrate our value as journalists. I strongly defend our critics’ right to call us ‘fake news.’ The U.S. Constitution protects their free speech rights – just as it protects the free press from being throttled.”
Another cause close to Boehne’s heart is improving access to college education and developing his alma mater of Northern Kentucky University (NKU).
“I’m not sure how much of a difference I’ve made, but I’m a lunatic advocate for affordable, high-quality and easily accessible post-secondary education and training,” says Boehne. “America remains the world’s finest example of upward mobility, choice and opportunity. Education is what keeps our system going and we must protect it.
“We’ve been loyal supporters since Lisa and I walked the stage 37 years ago at our NKU graduation. I’m now a member of the board of regents there. The university has evolved to become a first-choice school for many of the region’s best and brightest students thanks to NKU’s signature programs. And we’ve broadened the university’s scope without sacrificing one ounce of our commitment to first-generation and nontraditional students. Between the two of us, we fall into both of those categories. That’s why we’re enthusiastic advocates.”
Boehne has also been actively seeking to find a cure for Type 1 diabetes through his support of the Juvenile Diabetes Research
“JDRF is the most effective funnel and advocate for the work that remains to be done,” says Boehne. “This is expensive work and the scale and reach of JDRF means it can be done with the resources that will make a real difference.
“Type 1 diabetes is among the diseases that, together, dominate the health challenges of our population. To eliminate it would make a dramatic difference in the quality of life and financial health of so many families.”
One inspiring message this Cincinnatian of the Year has found for living a life for others comes from a very old source.
“Whenever people ask me for advice on how to live a fulfilling life, I quote the Bible’s book of Luke,” says Boehne.
“’From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.’”
For more information about the Cincinnatian of the Year Gala, visit swojdrf.org or jdrfcincinnatian.org.