Those three traits, however, have also served to help Lee Iaccoca realize one of the most ardent and impassioned goals of his life—a cure for Type 1 diabetes.
In 1984, following the death of his wife Mary as the result of diabetes complications, Iacocca founded The Iacocca Foundation, which has emerged as one of the country’s premiere funders of diabetes research.
For nearly 20 years, The Iacocca Foundation has sought out researchers and provided funding for innovative and promising research. “Typically, discovery work is the most difficult research to secure funding,” says Dana Ball, Foundation Operations Manager. “But it is exactly this type of work which The Iacocca Foundation has funded over the past 20 years.”
Today, at 79 years of age, Iacocca—who lives in Bel Air, California, and in Palm Desert, California—still takes an active role in The Iacocca Foundation, which is headed by his daughter, Kathryn Iacocca Hentz. He also sits on the board of Feed the World and is heavily involved with the Ellis Island project and Reading Is Fundamental. He is also a very active and involved grandfather of seven. According to Ball, “He’s no different now than when he was head of Chrysler. He works every day, dividing his time between several different interests both in the business world and philanthropy.”
With the announcement of a potential cure for Type 1 diabetes, Mr. Iacocca said, “I have been hoping to live long enough to see a cure [for diabetes]. Yet, I’ve said that for 20 years. Now, with enough help, I think I just might.”