Miami-Dade County

Gables resident helps with grant for Diabetes Research Institute

Congratulations to Coral Gables resident Juan Elias Calles for securing a $5,000 grant from the Million Dollar Round Table Foundation on behalf of the Diabetes Research Institute at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

The funds will advance development of the groundbreaking DRI BioHub, an integrated mini organ that mimics the natural pancreas.

Calles, of Calles Financial, has been a member of foundation for 37 years and has helped to support the institute for 25 years. His daughter, Ivette Marie Calles, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1985 at age 9. Calles has been a dedicated activist to raise money and awareness since then.

The Diabetes-Dad recently presented the grant to the DRI Foundation President and CEO Joshua W. Rednik.

“We are honored that Juan Calles continues to nominate the DRIF for grants from the MDRT Foundation,” Rednik said. “We couldn’t be more grateful for his steadfast involvement and belief in our organization’s mission to cure diabetes.”

The DRI BioHub, a bioengineered mini-organ, contains thousands of insulin-producing cells that can sense blood sugar levels to release the exact amount of insulin needed when it is needed.

The mission of the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation is “to provide the Diabetes Research Institute with the funding necessary to cure diabetes now.”

To see a video and learn more about the institute and the BioHub, go to You can also call 800-321-3437 for more information.

The MDRT Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the Million Dollar Round Table, The Premier Association of Financial Professionals. Created in 1959, it provides members with a means to give back to their communities. The Foundation has donated more than $28 million in charitable grants worldwide, according to its website. To learn more, visit The deadline to apply for 2015 grants is Sept. 1.


Westminster Christian School is planning a family friendly fishing tournament to raise funds for cancer research starting at 8 a.m. Aug. 23 at Shake-a-Leg Marina in Coconut Grove.

The event is in honor of the memory of Westminster Christian sixth grader Briana Vega who passed away in February after a courageous battle with leukemia. In her too-short time, Briana inspired thousands of people to sign up as bone marrow donors.

Funds raised through the tournament will benefit the Live Like Bella Foundation for Childhood Cancer. The event also includes a Dock Party from noon to 5 p.m. Family members can enjoy lunch, refreshments and a variety of fun activities while they wait for the fishing tournament participants to return.

“We are thrilled to join forces with Live Like Bella to make a difference in the lives of children battling cancer, and to bring honor to the memory of Briana,” said Pete Cabrera, Westminster Christian superintendent.

So far, event sponsors include The DeMoya Group, Asian Pearl, Cutler Cleaners and Simply Smiles. Sponsorship opportunities are still available.

To register your boat or to learn more about sponsorships, contact Becky Guilford, director of Parent Programs and Special Events, at 305-235-4560 or visit

The Live Like Bella Foundation was founded in memory of Bella Rodriguez-Torres. The foundation funds innovative pediatric cancer research, provides recreational support for families with children in treatment, and assists families who have lost a child to cancer. For more information, visit


The American Public Gardens Association honored the Fairchild Challenge educational program with its 2014 Award for Program Excellence at its annual meeting at the Denver Botanic Gardens.

Amy Padolf, director of education at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables, accepted the award. Padolf had the additional honor of being recognized by her peers for her work in public horticulture.

The Fairchild Challenge interdisciplinary STEM education competition is part of more than 270 schools for about 125,000 South Florida students in grades PreK-12.

The excellence award is reserved for an APGA Garden member who has “displayed a truly innovative spirit in the development of new programs and has pioneered in one or more of the disciplines appropriate to public horticultural institutions, including education, conservation, development, botany, gardening, horticulture, research, extension, or administration.”

The Fairchild Challenge was recognized at the event for its success in student engagement that generates enthusiasm for the environment. The program was hailed as a model for educators everywhere.

Information brunches will be held Aug. 23, for middle school and high school, and Sept. 6 for elementary school. Teachers and school administrators are invited to learn more about this year’s challenges. Check it out at