King of Heart Heads Cardiac Foundation

Larry King Jr. with Jeffrey Jacobs, M.D. ’88, in Jamaica

Larry King, Jr., A.B. ’83, M.B.A. ’93, remembers well his first week in 1995 working at Intuit, the maker of financial software—he had to “fire up” an audience of 800 fellow employees about the company’s prospects. Given his prior business experience and the fact that he’s the son of that Larry King, you’d expect him to be able to stand and deliver. Nonetheless, he gives the credit to the U, where he covered sports for WVUM.

“Having both a communication degree and a business degree is very useful,” says King. “You learn to articulate your message quickly, concisely, and with confidence. That’s one of the reasons I feel I owe UM.”

The payback is that the Miami native and ’Canes fan since going to his first game at age 8 is an energetic alumnus. He served as co-chair of the UM Hurricane Club Council and is president of the UM Alumni Club chapter in Tampa, his current home.  

King left Intuit in 2004 and became president of the Larry King Cardiac Foundation, a nonprofit organization that helps people pay for heart surgery they need but can’t afford. Started by his television-host father in 1988, the foundation works toward a goal of saving one heart every day.

“Part of my job is stretching our dollars,” says King. “For example, about 10 percent of our work is international, and we have found that it is less expensive to take a team to another country—and train local surgeons while we are there—than to fly patients to the U.S.”

In April the father of three joined a fellow alumnus, pediatric surgeon Jeffrey P. Jacobs, M.D. ’88, on a mission to Jamaica to repair the hearts of 20 children.

“I am blessed to be able to do this work,” which requires a mix of caring and financial skills, explains King. Fortunately, he’s adept at both. “In today’s economic climate, you cannot just put your hand out and expect people to give,” he adds. “You must have a strong message about what you do and how donations are going to be used. If you can do both, then people will help the cause.”

Robert S. Benchley