DRI Foundation Receives $3 Million Legacy Gift From Shirley Harris

Longtime donor will be honored at special reception at Diabetes Research Institute

A snowbird who splits her time between Bal Harbour and New York, Shirley Harris attends several DRIF events throughout the year in both regions.

HOLLYWOOD, FL (December 5, 2011) – The Diabetes Research Institute Foundation has received a $3 million legacy gift from Shirley Harris, one of the organization’s longtime supporters whose generosity is ensuring the continued funding of cure-focused research beyond her lifetime. This significant gift from the Bal Harbour resident builds upon her previous commitments, which have totaled more than $3.3 million.

In recognition of her extraordinary generosity, Harris will be honored at a special luncheon on Tuesday, December 6th, 11:30 a.m., at the Diabetes Research Institute at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. During the reception, the Shirley Harris Administrative Pavilion will be dedicated and a permanent tribute will be installed in the building’s lobby.

“The DRI Foundation is proud to recognize and express our gratitude to Shirley Harris for her devotion to supporting a biological, universal cure for diabetes,” said Robert A. Pearlman, president and CEO of the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation.  “Shirley’s magnificent gift will serve as a legacy to her generosity and a reminder to all who have the pleasure of knowing her.”

Originally from New York, Harris became involved with the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation many years ago, after her grandson was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Once she learned more about the Diabetes Research Institute and its sole focus on curing the disease, she immediately became more involved in its fundraising activities and became a major donor herself.

“After losing my father to diabetes and seeing the challenges my 2-year-old grandson was facing upon being diagnosed, I knew I had to do my part and help find a cure,” said Harris, one of the earliest members of the organization’s Heritage Society, which recognizes those who have provided for the DRI Foundation in their estate plans. “People have to be alerted to the fact that they can make a meaningful donation in this way and leave their money to their children and to charity. You have to give back some of what you’ve got.”

A self-made businesswoman, Harris spent her entire career in the retail trade, successfully starting various enterprises. Back in the 1960s, she and her late husband owned the Debbie Shops, a chain of women’s clothing stores in the South. She eventually sold the business to open her own buying office for ladies ready-to-wear clothing, becoming a purchasing representative for Allied Department Stores of Georgia. After 24 years, she retired in 1993.

In addition to receiving a tribute at the luncheon reception, Harris will be honored as the Grand Humanitarian Honoree at the DRI Foundation’s 2012 Love and Hope Ball on Saturday, February 18th at the Westin Diplomat Resort and Spa in Hollywood.  

About the Diabetes Research Institute and Foundation
The Diabetes Research Institute Foundation (DRIF) is the organization of choice for those who are serious, passionate and committed to curing diabetes. Its mission is to provide the Diabetes Research Institute with the funding necessary to cure diabetes now.

The Diabetes Research Institute leads the world in cure-focused research. As the largest and most comprehensive research center dedicated to curing diabetes, the DRI is aggressively working to shrink the timeline toward the discovery of a biological cure for this disease.  Having already shown that diabetes can be reversed through islet transplantation, the DRI is building upon these promising outcomes by bridging cell-based therapies with emerging technologies. The Diabetes Research Institute was created for one reason – to cure diabetes – which is and will continue to be its singular focus until that goal is reached. For the millions of people affected by diabetes, the DRI is the best hope for a cure.

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Media Contact:
Lauren Schreier

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