Classic raising money for diabetes center

NEWPORT BEACH — Golf pro Larry Mize walked through the doors of the Mary & Dick Allen Diabetes Center. He then walked out only to walk through again Thursday morning.

The 1987 Masters champion walked past a rehabilitation gym on his tour with Dr. Kris Iyer and they had to walk past it again.

Some moments had to appear better than normal for the Golf Channel camera following the two men around the diabetes center at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach.

However, there's no way to stage the staggering statistics about diabetes. It's the fastest growing chronic disease in the world, and affects more than 25 million people in the U.S., according to the American Diabetes Assn. That number accounts for roughly 8% of the population.

It's a reason among many why Iyer made it an important goal to help create the diabetes center in Newport Beach.

Iyer, the medical director of the center, talked about the disease and the facility as he gave Mize a tour.

This year, all proceeds from the Toshiba Classic will benefit the Mary & Dick Allen Diabetes Center. For the past 13 years, the Champions Tour event at Newport Beach Country Club has raised about $13 million.

Mize said he was asked by the Champions Tour to visit the diabetes center. He said OK and that he wanted to learn more about the center because of the charity so he could understand better.

"I'm really glad I came," said Mize, who competes in the 17th Toshiba Classic today in the first of three rounds. "It's unbelievable. This was just a tremendous tour of a tremendous facility."

Mize stopped at various spots of the center. He didn't meet with patients, who visit the center for treatment, support and education. There were no patients at the center available that early in the morning.

But Mize did meet a diabetic during the tour. That would be Iyer. He knows plenty about the disease that is a malfunction of the way the body makes or uses insulin, which is needed to move glucose into cells, where it is stored and later used for energy.

Iyer, who has been at Hoag Hospital for 25 years, is grateful for the charity. He enjoys talking about the center that has shown positive results since it opened June 15, 2009.

"The beauty of it is the best is yet to come," said Iyer, who lives in Irvine. "We have not really scratched the surface of the population with diabetes in the community."

Still, Iyer takes pleasure in the facility that "started as a rinky-dink education center."

He said while 1,000 U.S. diabetes centers closed in 2009, Hoag opened what has become a clinic. That occurred because Iyer helped the center gain certification from the ADA.

The Mary & Dick Allen Diabetes Center provides medical nutrition therapy, pump and insulin management, and pediatric diabetes services, among other care for diabetics.

"At the end of the day, the doctor has to do two jobs. Only two: Reduce suffering and reduce death," Iyer said. "And that's the driving force in my life about being a doctor and being an administrator."

Iyer can also perform well as a tour guide, and he wasn't shy for the camera.

He certainly grabbed a Masters champion's attention Thursday morning.

"This should be a model for other people to copy," Mize said of the center.

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