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Angelica Berrie and the Berrie Foundation

Donor / Angelica Berrie and the Berrie Foundation

The Berrie family and The Russell Berrie Foundation have demonstrated an incredible commitment to patients with diabetes and their families, particularly for advancing research and care through its founding and continued support of the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center at Columbia University Medical Center. Their ultimate mission: to help find a cure for diabetes.

Before he passed away in 2002, Russell Berrie was perhaps most widely known as the man behind "Russ" stuffed animals and toys. But he was also a magnanimous philanthropist devoted to using his fortune to help others in need. Among his charitable priorities was a tireless dedication to adults and children living with diabetes, which affected his own family. Russell Berrie himself also lived with diabetes.

In 1997, The Russell Berrie Foundation's visionary gift helped to create the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center, named after Russell Berrie's mother, which focuses on family-oriented patient care and education with world-class diabetes research programs. Today, the Center—whose tagline is "The Care Until the Cure"— treats more than 15,000 patients annually, and is one of three "Diabetes Centers of Excellence" in New York State.

A priority for the Foundation is supporting scientific research. The Foundation's commitment allows scientists at the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center to pursue novel studies on new therapies and the complex mechanisms of this illness—and to deliver their bench-side findings right to patients so they may benefit directly.

Since his passing, Russell Berrie's legacy of giving lives on through the Foundation and his wife Angelica Berrie, with transformational gifts to continue advancing the latest in diabetes clinical care and innovative research at Columbia University Medical Center.

"We wanted to foster a culture, and the culture was humanism," said Angelica Berrie in a video tribute that aired at the College of Physicians and Surgeons' Crown Awards on Oct. 26. "We felt that it had to begin with the moment a patient enters the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center...It helps keep his spirit alive. I think that when I see people who benefit from his philanthropy, particularly the little kids who come to the Berrie Center after Halloween and exchange their sweets for toys, it just makes me smile." 

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