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Around & About the Community

PDF Gala Celebrates Philanthropy and Honors Top Women Scientists

The Grand Ballroom at the Pierre Hotel in New York City swelled with elegantly attired friends, supporters and scientists on Tuesday, May 18 to raise funds and honor outstanding members of the community at PDF's annual gala, Bal du Printemps.

As guests socialized over cocktails and perused the enticing silent auction items, the air filled with an upbeat spirit on a night that emphasized not only the wonderful work already achieved on the road to solving Parkinson's but also the steps to be taken to find a cure.

The celebration continued as the group made its way from the Cotillion Room to enjoy dinner, dancing and the smooth commentary of Master of Ceremonies, Stone Phillips. PDF Executive Director Robin Elliott delivered warm welcoming remarks highlighting the importance of the work PDF supports to the lives of people with Parkinson's disease. His message was clear: we can all make a contribution, whether it be in the form of funding research, laboring in scientific laboratories or simply helping to get the message out that every effort must be made to cure Parkinson's. Guests reflected on the marriage of philanthropy and good science as they soaked up the atmosphere and musical stylings of the legendary Kitty Carlisle Hart.

In the true spirit of the evening, PDF's Scientific Director Dr. Stanley Fahn introduced and illuminated the research of four outstanding women scientists honored for their work in Parkinson's. This is believed to be the first time that leading women scientists in a particular area of neurologic disease have been recognized as a group.

Honoree Ann Martin Graybiel, Ph.D., of M.I.T., was applauded for her work that has helped scientists to understand the functions of the striatum (a part of the basal ganglia known to be involved in the dysfunction that results in Parkinson's disease). PDF also recognized Karen S. Marder, M.D., M.P.H., of the Columbia University Medical Center, for her Parkinson's-specific research, which includes a NIH-funded study on genetic epidemiology, a Udall Center project on gender and ethnic differences and research on the risk factors for dementia in PD. Caroline M. Tanner, M.D., Ph.D., and director of clinical research at the Parkinson's Institute of California, has contributed to the scientific community with her epidemiological investigations into the causes of PD, atypical parkinsonism, essential tremor, motor neuron disease, dystonia and Tourette syndrome. Finally, Dr. Fahn commended Anne B. Young, M.D., Ph.D., of Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, for her work on neurotransmitter systems in the basal ganglia, an area of the brain that is implicated in Huntington's, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.

To round out the evening, the Page and William Black Humanitarian Award was presented to Alan and Kathy Greenberg. The Greenbergs are long-time PDF supporters and have been active in the New York humanitarian and philanthropic scene for almost two decades. PDF sends its heart-felt thanks to this generous and impressive couple for their leadership, compassion and dedication to others.

Thanks must also be extended to several more outstanding women, the gala co-chairs who made the evening a successful and joyous event: PDF Chairman Page Morton Black, Margo Catsimatidis, Isobel Robins Konecky and Sandra Feagan Stern and their magnificent committee. In addition, PDF thanks corporate co-chairs John K. Castle, John A. Catsimatidis and David S. Slackman for their guidance and hard work in making the event a great success. The efforts of these individuals are true testimonials to the amazing things made possible by extraordinary people.

11th Annual Morris K. Udall Awards Dinner a Rousing Success

Wednesday, May 19 found Washington, DC's Ritz-Carlton serving as host to the 11th Annual Morris K. Udall Awards Dinner, which performs the necessary double duty of raising awareness of Parkinson's disease and supporting the Parkinson's Action Network (PAN). This annual reception and dinner provides an opportunity to present various awards of great esteem to figures in public life who emulate the characteristics of former Representative Morris K. Udall, an American political legend who served in Congress for 30 years, ran for President, and whose life and career were cut short by Parkinson's disease. The distinguished Morris K. Udall Awardees this year were Representative Lane Evans (D-IL), Senator Bill Frist (R-TN), and Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson.

Also presented during this emotional dinner and awards ceremony are two coveted awards: the Millicent Kondracke Award for Outstanding Advocacy and the Buddy Levenson Award. Milly Kondracke, who passed away in July (see "Farewell to an Advocate," page 11), was a tireless and effective advocate for an increased federal commitment to Parkinson's research. Since 2002, the Millicent Kondracke Award has been presented annually to outstanding advocates who demonstrate the strength of spirit and steadfast devotion to advocacy and education that Milly demonstrated every day. PAN was pleased to award this year's Milly Award recipients: PAN Texas State Co-Coordinators Joe and Nina Brown.

Beginning in 2003, the annual Buddy Levenson Award has been presented at the dinner to a remarkable individual who, despite suffering from Parkinson's disease, has exhibited enduring spirit by making extraordinary contributions to the betterment of humankind in his or her work, family life and charitable endeavors. The recipient of the 2004 Buddy Levenson Award was John Darvish, owner of DARCARs and an entrepreneur in the Washington, DC area.

The dinner was emceed by Roll Call Executive Editor and PAN Board Member Mort Kondracke, Fox News Analyst Fred Barnes, host of NBC's Hardball Chris Matthews, and CNN's Wolf Blitzer, and featured remarks by Representative Mark Udall (son of Mo Udall), PAN Board Chairman Jeffrey C. Martin, PAN President Joan Samuelson and Michael J. Fox.

Innovative Fundraising Supports Research and Programs at PDF

In a time when charities are constantly searching for new ways to gain support and funding, some exceptional people are helping by creating new and touching ways to support Parkinson's research.

One such example is that of Mr. and Mrs. George P. Egbert, Jr. of Greenwich, CT, who celebrated the marriage of their daughter Melissa to William Sheehan by making a donation to PDF. At their daughter's wedding reception on June 5, in lieu of wedding favors, Mrs. Egbert placed PDF cards and table seating cards in an envelope for each guest acknowledging that a donation had been made to PDF in honor of their presence. This gift to PDF was especially touching in that it was made in honor of Melissa's father, who has Parkinson's disease.

Melissa and her mother crafted this idea after reflecting on weddings they had attended where the "favors" given to guests were all too often left on the tables. They now say several of their friends are following this example by making donations in lieu of favors to their favorite causes.

Especially poignant was one moment when Melissa's father was able to walk her down the aisle, and another when he was dancing with Melissa to a rendition by the Alex Donner Orchestra of "Thank Heaven for Little Girls."

PDF extends its thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Egbert for their heartfelt contribution and for setting an outstanding example of philanthropy.

Annual Shake, Rattle & Roll Brings Advocates and Community Leaders Together

On Saturday, June 26, people with Parkinson's, community leaders, and Parkinson's experts gathered in Peoria, IL, for the third annual 'Shake, Rattle & Roll' - created and organized by Joan Snyder - to learn about the latest developments in PD treatments and to raise funds for research.

On Saturday, attendees were treated to programs that addressed issues ranging from exercise to massage to nutrition. The interactive workshops featured guest speakers Brenda Tucker, co-founder of People Living With Parkinson's (PLWP) and Carol Walton, executive director of The Parkinson Alliance, among others.

After a day of exercising the brain, participants regrouped on Sunday and headed to the Peoria Riverfront where they were met by more than a walk. Volunteers had worked tirelessly to prepare an event that included fabulous decorations and food, musical entertainment and a silent auction. Party-goers were thrilled when State Senator George Shadid, State Representative David R. Leitch, State Representative Ricca Sloane and U.S. Representative Lane Evans joined the celebration to add a true spirit of advocacy.

All in attendance proclaimed the event to be a rousing success and anxiously look forward to next year's 'Shake, Rattle & Roll' festivities!