updated 08/05/1985 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/05/1985 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Lee Iacocca is known as the Father of the Mustang, but before long he may be equally renowned as the father of Kathryn Iacocca, 26. Last January the daughter of the Chrysler chairman became director of the $1.5 million Lee lacocca Foundation, dedicated to finding a cure for diabetes. "I know my mom would want me to do this," says Kathi, alluding to Mary Iacocca's death from the disease in May 1983. Kathi, who worked as a lobbyist for a Washington area public relations firm before settling in at the foundation's one-room Georgetown headquarters, has already been swamped with proposals. One that interests her is a network of support groups for diabetics' families. "Life with a diabetic is like sitting on a powder keg," says Kathi, who recalls that her mother's 34-year illness kept her and sister Lia, now 21, living in fear that she would die of insulin shock.

Despite the trauma, Iacocca's upbringing in Bloomfield Hills, Mich, was solid. Kathi, who attended Middlebury (Vt.) College, still loves Michigan but finds Washington more stimulating. When not attending diabetes-related social functions, she enjoys running, Nautilus and playing with her Yorkie, Koko.

Iacocca is very serious about her position, but not so serious that she hasn't decided what she will do if a cure for diabetes is found: "Pop that cork," she says with a grin.

Michael Jackson and comrades do a nice enough rendition of We Are the World, but Charles "Chucky" Ellis' version is more novel. He does it in sign language. "I want to reach out to the audience and let them be part of our world," says Ellis, 24, who has only about 20 percent of his hearing. Ellis can dance and sign the lyrics to dozens of pop songs and has performed his routine at several New York City clubs.

In spite of the auditory nerve damage he was born with, Ellis was musically gifted as a child growing up in New Jersey. At Washington, D.C.'s Gallaudet College, a liberal arts school for the hearing impaired, Ellis learned sign language and practiced by signing the lyrics of songs on the radio. He left Gallaudet in 1981 because it had no music department and later took two music courses at the Juilliard School.

Ellis, who hopes his act may someday include singing, lives in Roselle, N.J. with his mother, a computer analyst. (His parents are divorced.) Chucky works as a messenger in nearby Newark to finance voice classes. This month he will perform his version of Whaml's Everything She Wants at the World Games for the Deaf in Los Angeles. Says Ellis, "There is no need for deaf people to miss out on what everyone else is tapping his foot to."

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