For 33 years, on the eve of the "Run for the Roses," the Barnstable Brown Derby Eve Gala has taken place in Louisville, Kentucky. The star-studded gala centered around the fastest two minutes in sports has helped create a center designed for a much longer run — the entire lifespan of each patient — providing care from pediatrics to adults with one coordinated clinical team.

UK HealthCare’s Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center was established in 2008 by twin sisters Patricia Barnstable Brown and Priscilla Barnstable along with their late mother, Wilma. Together, they pledged the initial funding to support the center in memory of Patricia Barnstable Brown’s husband, David, who passed away in 2003 from complications of diabetes. Since the center’s creation the family has been committed to helping with efforts to combat a disease that disproportionately impacts Kentuckians.

More than 440,000 adults in Kentucky have diabetes. That’s 12.9% of the Commonwealth’s population of people ages 18 and older. Only six other states have a higher diabetes prevalence rate. More than 280,000 people, or 10% of Kentucky adults, have been diagnosed with prediabetes, but many more people may be unaware that they have it, as only 60% of adults undergo a diabetes or prediabetes screening.

“The rates of diabetes in our Commonwealth are higher than that of the general U.S. population, which means the physical, emotional, and economic burden of the disease disproportionately burdens our citizens,” said Simon Fisher, MD, PhD, acting director of the Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center. “Through research, clinical care and education, the center is helping mitigate the burden of diabetes in Kentucky.”

Through fundraising events such as the family’s annual Derby Eve Gala, which attracts celebrities from around the world to the Barnstable Brown family home in Louisville, the family has donated $17 million plus for research and patient care at the diabetes and endocrinology center.

The number of patients seen at UK HealthCare’s Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center has doubled in the past five years, with more than 22,000 Kentuckians receiving specialized medical care at the center during this past year alone.

“In addition to the rapid expansion of clinical care for people with diabetes, support from the family has funded key, cutting-edge research projects that aim to prevent diabetes as well as improve the quality of life for people with diabetes," said Fisher. "Funds have also been used to train the next generation of health care providers in providing specialized care for people with diabetes.”

The Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center works tirelessly to provide adequate care, knowledge, and tools to the community. Just in the past year, the Barnstable Brown team along with other partners have hosted numerous free events. Last fall's “Be Healthy Bash” saw more than 500 attendees. The event focused on whole body well-being with information and activities around nutrition, fitness and emotional wellness. The family-friendly event was held in collaboration with the Lexington Farmers' Market at Southland and many other UK HealthCare, University of Kentucky and community partners.

Additionally, the center hosted two “Be a Diabetes A.C.E. (Active. Confident. Educated.)”events and five cooking classes. The idea for a class coordinated with The Food Connection Learning Kitchen at the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environmentcame about when providers realized not only do many patients not eat vegetables or know much about them, but they likely do not know how to prepare them even if they had them stocked in their kitchens.

The classes cover everything from basic kitchen and knife safety to ways to season vegetables without adding salt. The classes also include a short nutrition presentation by one of the center’s diabetes care and education specialists.

“The Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center is excited about the many ways we have increased our presence in the community over the last year. Providing education about diabetes and self-care outside the walls of our exam rooms allows us to reinforce teaching to our patients and is an amazing opportunity to reach populations who may not be accessing health care,” said Chlodys Johnstone, associate director of education and quality services at the center.

The goal through all these events is for participants to feel confident in their daily lives and to not have to stress about decisions like what to have for dinner that will fit in their guidelines, or how to make sure they are getting some physical activity in their day, or how to successfully manage their multiple medications. The team is hopeful their efforts will result in healthy, self-assured mindsets for each patient as they not only manage their well-being but also thrive in the long run.

The 34th Barnstable Brown Kentucky Derby Eve Gala will be held on Friday, May 5, 2023. The celebrity guest list for this year includes Patrick Mahomes, Chris Pine, Peyton Manning, Jack Harlow, Aaron Rodgers, Smokey Robinson, Travis Tritt, Joey Fatone and many more.