Focuses on the Ultimate Jackpot: A cure
Suzanne “Sue” Lowden, MDA Board of Directors member, readily acknowledges that she’s had “a different kind of life.”
Actually, if her life thus far was a road map, it would feature winding routes with stops at plenty of interesting places.
Lowden’s experiences have ranged from performing with Bob Hope and the USO in Vietnam as a college student, to her work today as an executive in the gaming and resort industry in Nevada.
In between has been a career as a television anchor and reporter, a teaching job, parenthood, and four years as a Nevada state senator that included a turn as Senate majority whip.
But for almost three decades, Lowden, 52, has followed at least one straight and determined course: her involvement with MDA.
Lowden has been on the Board since 1998. She’s joined by her husband, Paul W. Lowden, an MDA national vice president, in her enthusiastic support for and leadership of MDA’s mission.
It’s a route she plans to pursue to its very end: “I want to find a cure,” she says emphatically.
“I believe in helping children and helping families,” Lowden said. “I believe we’re going to find a cure, and I think it’s going to be soon.”
Lights, Camera, Action!
Lowden’s interest in MDA began during her 10-year career at KLAS-TV, Channel 8, a CBS affiliate in Las Vegas. She was a well-known anchorwoman and reporter there in the 1980s (also known as Sue Parkinson), and was inducted into the station’s Hall of Fame in 1997.
During that time she served as an emcee for the local broadcast of the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon, and fondly remembers the challenge and fun of staying up all night for the show, Lowden said.
She also remembers meeting families and individuals affected by neuromuscular diseases. They touched her deeply, and she soon became devoted to doing what she could to help MDA’s mission.
Her efforts were bolstered by her marriage in 1983 to Paul Lowden, former owner of the Sahara Resort and Casino. He brought the Telethon’s national broadcast to the Sahara from 1991 to 1994.
The Lowdens sold the Sahara in 1995, the same year the MDA Telethon national broadcast moved to the Los Angeles area. Yet the couple have remained steadfastly involved with MDA on local and national levels.
The Lowdens can be counted on to lend the Association their business expertise and wide network of connections to other leaders and business decision makers.
They received Humanitarian of the Year awards from the Las Vegas MDA office in 1995. And, sharing the same hometown as a certain MDA National Chairman, the Lowdens occasionally see their friends Jerry Lewis and his wife, Sam.
“Sue and Paul Lowden are an integral part of MDA’s history. Their dedication is incredibly valuable,” MDA President & CEO Robert Ross said. “Sue’s caring and compassion for the families MDA serves, plus her dedication to our goals, is hard to match. MDA is privileged to have her and Paul in our leadership.”
The Lowdens’ encounters with families served by MDA became even more meaningful in an unexpected way during a difficult year. In January 2004, their 17-year-old son, Will, died suddenly from a brain seizure.
The couple, who have three other children, Paul IV, Christopher and Jennifer, looked to the example of parents of children with neuromuscular diseases, Lowden said.
“Our experience with MDA families, seeing their courage and strength, helped us through this difficult time in our lives,” she said.
Additionally, they find comfort knowing that several other people are living now because they donated some of Will’s organs, including his heart to a 16-year-old boy.
Caring and Business Savvy
Lowden has traveled far from her days as “one of the singing and dancing girls in the background” with Bob Hope. (“I had a lot of nerve, and I just auditioned,” said the New Jersey native.)
Today her many talents propel her career as a successful business leader and philanthropist in her community.
She’s the vice president and a member of the Board of Directors for Archon Corp., a gaming and investment company run mostly by Lowden family members.
Among other interests, Archon owns the Pioneer Hotel & Gambling Hall in Laughlin, Nev. At one time the family owned the Hacienda Hotel in Las Vegas, which is now the site of Mandalay Bay, and the Santa Fe Station Hotel and Casino. Additions, expansions and upgrades mark the Lowden ownership eras for most of these famed properties.
Archon has a 26-acre property on the Las Vegas strip next to the Sahara, which Paul Lowden is developing.
Sue Lowden, who has a bachelor’s degree from American University in Washington and a master’s from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, N.J., sits on the board of Colonial Bank, which has branches in Nevada and several other states.
The Lowdens’ charitable work includes that for other organizations that assist children with disabilities, as well as for veterans groups. The Lowden Veterans Center and Museum in Las Vegas is housed in a building the company owns and leases to the Council of Nevada Veterans Organizations for $1 a year.
A Focused Goal
In her work for MDA, the long-term goal of curing neuromuscular diseases is Lowden’s top priority, and she’s encouraged by the scientific progress she’s seen.
“It’s very exciting to have watched the evolution of the science behind MDA’s research,” she said. “We are so close to finding effective treatments and to major breakthroughs in so many diseases, and it’s only going to get better.”
But maintaining scientific progress isn’t cheap, and that’s why Lowden has an important short-term goal for MDA — to continually increase fund-raising and the research budget.
“The doctors and scientists have to be paid. Without them, it’s not going to happen,” she said. At the same time she’s committed to maintaining MDA programs that “support families with their medical, physical and emotional needs.”
When it comes to finding time in her busy schedule for another MDA meeting or event, Lowden said that she and her husband are always gratified to do so.
“It is absolutely my pleasure to devote any time at all. I have been so touched by the kids and the families,” she said. “We’ve always been supportive of MDA’s mission, and will continue to be.”