Hello, sports fans! Mark your calendars for a night of hoops and hope as pro, college and celebrity amateurs hit the hardwood to benefit ALS research.
The 3rd Annual Braylon Edwards Celebrity Basketball Game is on for Friday, April13 at Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor. Doors open at 7 p.m. and advance tickets ($20 adult, $15 student) are on sale now at www.BraylonEdwards.com. Special VIP courtside passes are available for $100.
Dr. Eva Feldman, director of the Taubman Institute, will serve as the 2012 honorary chair and keynote speaker at the 4th Annual JVS Trade Secrets dinner on March 7 at the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham.
The annual fundraising event benefits the JVS Women to Work program, which helps women who must find employment after drastic life changes such as the loss of a spouse, disability or unemployment.
"Dr. Feldman leads what I call a purpose-driven life," said JVS President and CEO Barbara Nurenberg. "She will share her trade secrets in running a successful medical practice and overseeing the premier stem cell research facility in the country."
Since its founding in 1941, Southfield-based JVS has grown from its initial programs of employment services for women, job counseling for returning World War II veterans and sheltered work for displaced refugees to a comprehensive human services organization. Current JVS programs provide assistance and services to people with disabilities, senior adults, at-risk youth, people with economic and educational disadvantages, the homeless, job seekers and employers.
"It is a great honor to be included in this wonderful event by such a superb organization," said Dr. Feldman. "The work that JVS does in our community is so valuable and so greatly needed, especially in difficult economic times. I am so proud to be associated with JVS and its worthy causes."
The evening also will include the presentation of the JVS Women to Work Award. This year's honoree is Carol Shapiro Havis, who was helped by JVS and went on to start her own business.
About the JVS Trade Secrets Dinner Date: March 7, 2012
Time: 6 p.m.
Location: Townsend Hotel, Birmingham, Mich.
The evening also includes a cocktail reception and raffle.
Guests are asked to bring a new lipstick to help Women to Work participants.
More details are available on the JVS website.
Local attorneys help organize event to boost ALS research
By Sheila Pursglove
Attorneys Amanda Mercer, Knut Hill and David Lowenschuss are involved in the annual Box Car Derby to raise funds in the battle against Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) – a.k.a. Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
This is the fourth year of the Derby, run by Ann Arbor Active Against ALS (A2A3), a group formed to support friend and neighbor Bob Schoeni, a a University of Michigan economics and public policy professor who was diagnosed with ALS in July 2008. All three attorneys serve on the A2A3 Board.
This year’s Derby is set for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 24, near the U-M Phi Delta Theta fraternity on South University in Ann Arbor.
The fraternity approached A2A3 with the idea in 2008, as a change from their annual fund-raising walk.
ALS has long been the fraternity’s charitable cause because Lou Gehrig was a member of Phi Delta Theta while a student at Columbia University.
The entrance fee is $30 per team, with each team guaranteed at least three runs; three drivers (or fewer) per team are suggested to allow everyone a chance to drive. Pre-built cars will be available – but creative new cars are strongly encouraged.
The event will be followed by a picnic on the fraternity house lawn and food and drinks also will be available during the event. T-shirts will also be available for purchase.
“This year, instead of push starts we’ve built starting ramps and we’re in the process of building a number of newly designed cars,” says Lowenschuss, president of David H. Lowenschuss P.L.C. in Ann Arbor.
“We’re partnering with the Burns Park Elementary School art teacher and fifth-graders at Burns Park will be decorating 12 of our Box Car Derby cars for the race as part of their class project. Our platinum sponsor this year is Auto Trader, with a very generous donation.”
Having worked for many years in the pharmaceutical industry, Lowenschuss was aware that large pharmaceutical companies were not investing much money or research to find a cure for ALS, whose victims usually die within a few years of diagnosis, steadily losing the ability to move, swallow and finally to breathe.
Almost all the funds for neurodegenerative research – the type of disease ALS is considered – are focused on Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s Disease, he says.
The A2A3 group — formed shortly after Ann Arbor attorney Phil Bowen died of ALS in September 2008 — educates the public about ALS, provides a supportive community environment for Schoeni and his family, and shows people they can make a difference in their community, he says.
A2A3 has funded two different groups: The Program for Neurology Research & Discovery, under Director Dr. Eva Feldman, who is involved in the first stem cell clinical trial for ALS patients; and a nonprofit biotech company ALS TDI that does cure-based ALS research. Lowenschuss provides pro bono corporate legal work to ALS TDI.
Mercer, a neighbor of Schoeni and his wife Gretchen, has also launched the A2A3 Relay Team, a group of six women planning to swim the English Channel this summer and raise $120,000 for ALS research.
“Honestly, I wasn’t too sure about the Box Car Derby – I’d never gone to anything like it,” she says. “But, I’m so glad we decided to participate. Watching the faces of the kids, particularly my own, speeding down that hill – it’s priceless. And, the guys in the fraternity are phenomenal, they really add to the fun.”
Hill, an environmental attorney who earned his law degree from Widener University School of Law in Wilmington, Del., worked for seven years at Esperion Therapeutics in his native Ann Arbor, where he met Lowenschuss.
Long been committed to charity work through activities and community building, he has worked with Habitat for Humanity, run marathons, and skied across Michigan to raise support for people in need.
“I feel honored to be able to help with the Derby for the same reasons I enjoy working with A2A3 throughout the rest of the year – the group’s compassionate spirit is nearly intoxicating, and A2A3’s ability to take a serious disease head on while still making it fun for families and kids throughout the community is unique,” he says. “Each of our events are rewarding for all involved. We know our efforts are focused on finding a cure for this terrible disease and we’re proud that the way we’ve chosen to do that provides hope and shows compassion for those affected.”
For more information, visit A2A3.org.
Dr. Eva Feldman and A. Alfred Taubman
As Michigan struggles to find its way out of economic distress, stem cell research has the potential of leading the state into a more prosperous future, in addition to being one of the most important medical breakthroughs in a generation.
That was the message of Dr. Eva Feldman, director of the Program for Neurology Research & Discovery at the Medical School, as she addressed the Detroit Economic Club meeting on Tuesday.
Feldman also announced that the new Consortium for Stem Cell Therapies at U-M would be accepting embryo donations for the first time, according to careful guidelines spelled out by government and university regulations.
Also there for the announcement and to address media were Sue O'Shea, the Crosby-Kahn Collegiate Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology and professor of cell and developmental biology, and Gary Smith, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology, and associate professor of molecular and integrative physiology and of urology. O’Shea and Smith are co-directors of the Consortium for Stem Cell Therapies.
In addition, Feldman told the overflow crowd that a bill currently before the Legislature that would place restrictions on stem cell research is a step backward for the state and for medical science.
In November 2008, voters in the state of Michigan approved a constitutional amendment lifting restrictions on embryonic stem cell research in the state. For the first time, medical scientists in Michigan could derive embryonic stem cell lines, an important tool in finding new treatments and cures for a wide range of diseases.
Feldman described the major strides that have been made in the past year in Michigan, as a result of the vote.
“Michigan went from being one of the five states which prohibited this kind of research,” said Feldman, “to being at the very forefront of stem cell science.
“This work has incredible potential for both curing disease and rejuvenating an ailing economy.”
Feldman explained how stem cells have the unique ability to reproduce themselves indefinitely and to develop into any tissue type in the human body. For this reason, they offer unprecedented applications in the fields of regenerative medicine, tissue engineering, drug testing and other technologies that scientists have not even dreamed of yet.
Stem cell research also offers unique opportunities for economic growth in the life science sector, which has demonstrated remarkable vitality while the rest of the Michigan economy has languished in recession.
Citing a recent study by Wayne State University, Feldman explained that stem cell research has the potential to create nearly 4,000 new jobs, add $80 million per year to the state’s payrolls, while saving Michigan $80 million per year in health care costs.
The university long has been a leader in medical research. The school received more money in recent stimulus grants from the NIH than any other university in the country — $99.7 million. Nearly $7 million was earmarked for stem cell research.
A. Alfred Taubman, founder and chair of the Taubman Institute, introduced Feldman. He, too, cited the promise of stem cell research in the economic realm.
“I’m convinced it is one of our best opportunities to attract investments, create jobs and emerge from this recession with a revitalized economy.”
Taubman and Feldman touched upon legislation that has been introduced in the Legislature that would once again restrict stem cell research.
Taubman said if the legislation succeeds, it would place huge roadblocks in the way of progress.
“Michigan will once again be seen as a state unfriendly to science. The jobs, the talent and the cures will go elsewhere.
- Associated Press
- The Detroit News
- Detroit Free Press
- WWJ-AM/Great Lakes IT Report
- U-M Record Update
- Michigan Daily
Big House Big Heart Takes a Run at ALS
Call it happy feet, if you will. The 3rd annual Big Heart Big House run brought 10,000 participants to the streets of Ann Arbor, doubling the amount of money it raised for local charities. This year’s event on October 4, 2009, racked up half a million dollars in aid for worthy organizations.
The Program for Neurology Research & Discovery is one of the prime beneficiaries, as are the Cardiovascular Center and the Mott Children’s Hospital.
In addition, A. Alfred Taubman – Founder and Chair of U-M’s Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute – received the Phil Bowen Award, given each year to the individual who does the most to raise public consciousness about ALS.
He joined U-M President Mary Sue Colemen in kicking off the race.
The Big House Big Heart run is the only charitable event that gets to use the U-M Stadium. Participants can choose to run a 10K or 5K course or join a 1 mile Fun Run. Everyone finishes by running through the tunnel that leads to the football field and onto the 50 yard line, where they can watch themselves on the Jumbotron.
“Seeing all those runners bursting into the Big House, their arms raised in victory, is a marvelous sight,” said Eva Feldman, Director of the Program for Neurology Research & Discovery.
“But it’s even more thrilling to know that all these people are running to find a cure for ALS and to support other worthwhile charities.”
Beside the primary recipients, participants in the run can raise money for charities of their choosing.
To learn more about the event, visit www.bighousebigheart.com.
ALS Day at Comerica Park
Seventy years ago this summer, Lou Gehrig gave one of the most famous farewell speeches in American sports history. “I am the luckiest man on the face earth,” he told the fans at Yankee Stadium.
The Iron Horse, who had played in 2,130 consecutive games, was knocked out of the New York lineup by ALS – the same terrible disease that the Program for Neurology Research & Discovery struggles to understand every day in its laboratories.
Throughout the season, Major League Baseball is honoring the memory of Lou Gehrig and the fight against ALS at ballparks around the country.
On Sunday afternoon, August 9, the Detroit Tigers held a special ALS Day, to raise public awareness about the disease and to encourage people to participate in the Big House Big Heart Run/Walk on October 4. This annual Ann Arbor event raises money for ALS research at U-M and other worthwhile causes.
Dr. Eva Feldman, Director of the Program for Neurology Research & Discovery, told 42,000 Detroit Tigers fans about the ongoing battle to find a cure for ALS, the terrible disease that knocked Lou Gehrig out of the Yankee lineup 70 years ago.
A. Alfred Taubman, Chair of the Taubman Institute, joined event organizer Mike Highfield in urging the crowd to fight the disease by signing up for the Big House Big Heart Run on Sunday, October 4.
Ten thousand people are expected to take part in the event. They will make their way through the streets of Ann Arbor and into the tunnel leading onto the U-M Stadium football field, where they will watch themselves on the Jumbotron as the finish the race on the 50 yard line.
Taubman, along with U-M President Mary Sue Coleman, will kick off the race. He will also receive the Phil Bowen Award, given each year to the individual who does the most to raise public consciousness about ALS.
- To learn more about the event or to form your own team, visit www.bighousebigheart.com
- See the video on ALS Day at Comerica Park here.
Women Talk Health with Women
Women’s Health & Fitness Day provides a heavy dose of good advice
Women often interact with doctors only when they’re sick. At least once a year, women students in the University of Michigan’s Medical School seek to change that by holding an annual Women’s Health & Fitness Day.
This year on January 24, more than 225 women jammed Ypsilanti High School to hear from a wide variety of health-care professionals about how they could lead healthier, happier, more productive lives.
Seventeen medical students and more than 20 community leaders volunteered their time to make this free event possible. It was funded, in part, by the Program for Neurology Research and Discovery.
The day began with a free breakfast and a round of yoga. Then, participants took part in 19 workshops on topics such as depression, sexuality, obesity, financial health and stress management. The sessions were taught by University of Michigan Health System doctors, nurses, physical therapists and nutritionists.
The program culminated with a rousing talk by Sheila Taorima, the Olympic champion from Michigan, who recently founded Friendsport, a nonprofit organization that seeks to inspire Americans to adopt healthier lifestyles.
“The day was a success with many great worksops and Sheila Taormina’s inspiring keynote,” said Cassandra Niemi, co-director of the event with Lane Frasier. “It was wonderful to talk with so manny women who were energized by new friends and by the knowledge they gained from health-care professionals.
Beyond the Laboratory
None of our progress would have been possible without the thousands of people who donate their time, money and hard work to support the Program for Neurology & Discovery.
A Run for the Research Money
On Sept. 28, the Big House Big Heart event drew 7,000 runners and walkers to the U-M stadium, where they got to watch themselves cross the 50-yard-line on the stadium’s Jumbotron. Nearly $250,000 was raised for charity. Two great U-M causes were the primary recipients: The Program for Neurology Research & Discovery and the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.
The man with the biggest heart is local attorney Mike Highfield, who started the run in 2007 after watching Phil Bowen, his friend and law partner, pass away from ALS. He and sponsor, Running Fit, have made this an instant fall tradition.
Next year’s date has already been chosen: October 4. For more information, visit the Big House Big Heart Web site.
A Community Fights Back
When Dr. Bob Schoeni was diagnosed with ALS this summer, it was a shock to friends, colleagues and family in the Ann Arbor community. A popular U-M professor Bob has touched a lot of lives, especially through his coaching of girls sports. A large number of Ann Arbor girls call him simply, “Coach Bob.”
When his friends and coworkers heard about his condition, they organized a non-profit, A2A3 (Ann Arbor Active Against ALS), to support ALS research. Some of their initiatives include Training for a Cure, Coaching for a Cure, and Kids Active for a Cure. They have held a garage sale and Family Field Day.
A portion of the proceeds will go to ALS research at the Program for Neurology Research & Discovery. For information, go to www.a2a3.org.
Stem Cells and Salads
Along with co-hosts Susu Sosnick and Pamela Applebaum, Leslie Lewiston Etterbeek invited Dr. Feldman to her Bloomfield Hills home to talk to 45 guests on October 3 about stem cell research and the promise it holds for finding new treatments and cures for neurological disease.
Feldman explained what makes embryonic stem cells so special and the work she hopes to be able to do at the University of Michigan if such research became legal in the state. Just one month later, the voters of Michigan passed a new law lifting the ban on stem cell research.
Charity Event Par Excellence
For the past seven years, the Executive Women's Golf Association of Metro Detroit has conducted an end-of-season tournament to raise money for the Program for Neurology Research & Discovery. This year’s event took place on September 25 at Twin Lakes Golf Club in Oakland Township.
Nearly 60 people teed off. The golfers, sponsors and a silent auction raised $2,400 for neurological research. The EWGA exists to provide a setting for women to learn to play and enjoy the game of golf for business and pleasure. The Metro Detroit Chapter has over 200 members in Oakland, Macomb, Wayne and Washtenaw counties.