Forward Winter 2014

A breathtaking view: Visions for 2014 worthy of the work ahead (CEO update)

by Steven M. Derks on January 9, 2014 - 9:01am

Quest Winter 2014

As I travel from state to state, city to city, I continue to have the privilege of meeting ordinary people doing extraordinary things. They faithfully pledge their leadership and support to MDA, making it possible for us to fund worldwide research, provide comprehensive health care services and support to MDA families nationwide, and rally communities to fight back against muscle disease. 

Steven M. Derks

This past year — my first as MDA’s staff leader — has given me a breathtaking view of the progress we’re making as well as our opportunities ahead. More than 250 active neuromuscular research projects are now underway. In the meantime, we’ve walked alongside 100,000 individuals this past year who’ve called on MDA for assistance. This support is provided one person at a time, family by family, each with unique circumstances. 

As we ring in a new year and set high expectations for a healthier and more prosperous 2014, I’m convinced that MDA’s mission of providing help and hope is more important than ever. We are making meaningful strides in the fight against muscle disease and find ourselves on the verge of exciting new breakthroughs.

Today, survival rates and quality of life are increasing among people with neuromuscular diseases. Several exciting new drugs are in advanced clinical trials. It is your invaluable support of our life-enhancing mission that has brought us to this point and powers us forward.

Whether consulting with our scientific and medical advisers, brainstorming new marketing and fundraising initiatives with our sponsors, testifying in our nation’s capital on FDA research protocols or spending quality time with the amazing children and adults we serve, I am deeply struck by the duality of the intimacy and power of our mission — and the passion of those who put their hearts and souls behind it. Building on and leveraging this commitment for greater impact is at the top of our New Year’s resolutions.

We simply can’t do this work without your help. During this first quarter, I humbly ask you to keep buying Shamrocks and participating in Muscle Walks, through which we hope to double our family engagement. Please encourage those interested in running or endurance events to sign up for our new MDA Team Momentum, in which participants can “move their muscles” to strengthen others who have muscle limitations. You’ll find more information about these programs in this issue. 

As I reflect on our many blessings to conclude one year and bridge another, I want to recognize our Board of Directors. This past year, each director made a major financial gift to catapult us forward, modeling how transformational philanthropy can be in fueling a new era of discovery. All told, through their efforts as well as those of all our sponsors and donors, we raised more than $125 million in 2013 to fund our work. Every dollar matters to us! Thank you for your support.  

Looking ahead to a 2014 full of promise, plans and new energy for MDA, let’s go the extra mile together. Our cause is compelling and our opportunities are significant.  

Warm regards, 

Steven M. Derks
President and CEO
Muscular Dystrophy Association

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