Gala co-chairs Emily Rapp and Bob and Laura Roeder. Not pictured: Co-chair Derek Rapp.

Have you ever thought that there could be a vaccine against Type 1 diabetes? Or an artificial pancreas that could help regulate blood sugar?

Type 1 diabetes affects some 3 million Americans, and as many as 80 people are diagnosed with the autoimmune disease every day, according to statistics from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). So far there is no cure, but researchers are actively working to bring these and other breakthroughs into reality.

The JDRF is the leading charitable provider of funds for diabetes research, having spent $110 million in 2010 toward that goal, says St. Louis executive director Marie Davis. This year, the nonprofit’s Oceans of Hope Dream Gala will honor three major contributors: Ray Hartmann (Star of Hope Award), Arash Amini (Living and Giving Award) and Carlos Perea (Diabetes Championship Award).

Hartmann is being recognized for his community involvement and in recognition of his entrepreneurship. A graduate of University of Missouri, Hartmann founded The Riverfront Times at age 24. After selling the alternative newspaper, he started St. Louis Magazine, and is now the magazine’s CEO. He is also a panelist on Donnybrook and a principal in three other business ventures. Hartmann and his wife Kerri are active in the community, and he has served on the boards of the Starkloff Disability Institute, the St. Louis Journalism Review, Paraquad, the ACLU and the Clayton Child Center. “Max Starkloff recruited him right at the beginning to work with Paraquad, and he was on the board for about a dozen years,” Davis says.

Amini is the CEO of Amini’s Home, Rugs & Game Room and Jaffe Lighting. He is involved with more than 25 nonprofits and has served on the boards of JDRF, Muscular Dystrophy Association and Youth Lifeline America. He earned an accounting degree from Oklahoma Sate University and is a member of the Oklahoma State Bar. In the past three years, Amini and his wife Dana have personally donated more than $250,000 in products, gift certificates and cash throughout the St. Louis community.

Perea is the senior VP and chief human resources officer for BJC HealthCare. With approximately 26,000 employees, BJC is the largest employer within the city of St. Louis. A certified Six Sigma Black Belt, Perea previously served in leadership roles at BellSouth in Georgia, Alfa Laval in Pennsylvania, and General Electric.

The Oceans of Hope Dream Gala takes place from 6 p.m. to midnight on Saturday, May 7, at the Kemp Auto Museum. Event co-chairs are Emily and Derek Rapp and Laura and Bob Roeder. Guests will enjoy music from Groove Thang, with an outdoor tent featuring a silent auction, including art, sports memorabilia and a kids’ corner. Though many of the items for the live auction are still under wraps, they include “experiences that you can’t buy elsewhere,” Davis says. “When the guests get inside, they’ll ‘board the ship,’ and they will be dining under the ocean,” she adds. “We’re going to turn the whole dining area of the Kemp into the ocean floor.”

The fundraising goal for this year’s gala is $1 million, following on the heels of raising more than $900,000 last year. More than 80 percent of the money the JDRF spends annually goes directly toward research, Davis says. “We’re fortunate that we have top research centers right here in St. Louis,” she adds. “There is a lot of research being done at Washington University, so a lot of the dollars we raise here return to research in our town.”