Lee Iacocca's Diabetes Mission -- July 31, 2005

  -- A weekly feature on This Week.


Our voice this week is Lee Iacocca. You've probably seen that he's popped up again in those new ads for Chrysler, the company he brought back from bankruptcy a generation ago. But you may not know why he's back: It is not for money -- but for love.

Lee Iacocca: My wife led a tough life, at the end especially. She got diabetes when she was 23 years old. She lived 34 great years, and then she got the complications. She was a good Irish girl, and she said, "Make sure you put down on my death certificate that I died from complications. I didn't die from a heart attack," she said. Because people don't understand what diabetes is. They think it takes a couple of needles and you're okay the rest of your life.

Well, I got a call from Chrysler. Somebody suggested, "Why not bring Lee back?" And I said, "If I can help you guys, can you help me?" And I said, "I want you to be a national sponsor for the Iacocca Foundation, and I'm trying to lick this diabetes thing." And they put a nice deal together, and every dime's going to diabetes, which I've been working on now for 21 years.

People ask me how we're doing, and I say, "Wait'll next year." And I started saying, "Wait every five years," and now I've hit 80 and I'm running out of time. I made a commitment to my wife to try. I promised her I would try -- with other people's efforts -- to try to find a cure before I die. And we have about 100 researchers in her name all over the world. But now, one of those researchers at Mass General [Hospital] had a 10-strike.

She cured diabetes in mice in about a year and a half ago, and once she cured it, she said, "Wow! Not only did I stop the disease, but once I stopped the disease in the mouse they started to regenerate new cells." So now it's simple: If you're a mouse, I got you covered. But how you will translate that to humans, that is tough.

I think we're on the brink of a breakthrough, and that's why I'm pouring the coals on it. So now I'm about one third of the way there of the project. And then Chrysler and its dealers, thank God, will probably put me over the top. I'm in the neighborhood. I'm getting close.


The Tonight Show with Jay Leno:

Leno: President Bush has asked Congress to come up with an energy plan. You know what they came up with? Did you hear about this? They wanted to extend daylight savings time by four weeks to save energy. That's their plan? Move the clock ahead an hour -- woo! Take a break fellas, you're killing yourself.

Late Show with David Letterman:

Letterman: [It's] hot down in Washington D.C. As a matter of fact, Dick Cheney replaced his pacemaker with his icemaker.

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno:

Leno: It looks like there may be move people than just Karl Rove involved in this White House leaking scandal that's going on. They now say info may also have been leaked by Vice President Cheney's top aide, a man named Scooter Libby. Let me tell you something right now: That is not a good name to have if you are going to prison. You don't want to be called "Scooter" in prison.