MDA Matters January-February 2006

by Quest Staff on January 1, 2006 - 3:16pm

QUEST Vol. 13, No. 1

Featured in this article: MDA Shamrocks ** Gilman leads youth program ** Lowden elected treasurer ** Nietos head ALS Division ** Mattie-Carter meeting voted 'most memorable' TV moment ** MDA opposes vent policy ** MDA Art Collection exhibit

St. Pat's shamrocks bloom

Shamrocks poster - Thanks for Helping Jerry's Kids, Buy a Shamrock for $1

MDA’s Shamrocks Against Dystrophy program, the nation’s largest St. Patrick’s Day charity-related fundraiser, gets under way in February. Thousands of participating grocery stores, convenience stores, restaurants and other businesses across the country will sell $1 green and $5 gold shamrocks through March 17 and display them to benefit MDA.

MDA’s 2005 National Goodwill Ambassador Morgan Fritz and Broadway sensation Maureen McGovern, an MDA Board member and chairperson of Shamrocks Against Dystrophy, have issued a call to businesses and customers to participate in the program to help MDA find treatments and cures for neuromuscular diseases.

For information on how your business can join Shamrocks Against Dystrophy, call your local MDA office, or e-mail MDA Director of Program Development Brian Hunter at

Gilman will lead again

Billy Gilman

MDA National Youth Chairman Billy Gilman has accepted the invitation of MDA to continue as its youth chairman.

Gilman, who’s held the voluntary post since 2003, spearheads the efforts of thousands of teenagers and young adults who help advance the Association’s mission. He supports MDA through appearances at sponsor and volunteer events and through media interviews. Gilman also performs and hosts youth segments on the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon.


Nevada businesswoman elected treasurer

Sue Lowden

Suzanne Lowden, an executive in the gaming and resort industry in Nevada, was elected treasurer of the Muscular Dystrophy Association at the Dec. 2 meeting of its Board of Directors. Lowden has served as a member of the MDA Board of Directors since 1998.

A vice president of Las Vegas-based Archon Corp., Lowden previously served four years in the Nevada Senate, including a turn as majority whip. She also spent 10 years as an anchorwoman and reporter at KLAS-TV in Las Vegas, where she hosted the local MDA Telethon. Lowden is married to Paul W. Lowden, president of Archon Corp. and an MDA vice president.

Also at the meeting, Jeanne Y. Russell of New York — a financial consultant — was elected to a one-year term as a Board member.

Californians to head MDA's ALS division

Augie and Lynne Nieto

Augustine (Augie) and Lynne Nieto of Corona del Mar, Calif., have been named 2006 co-chairpersons of MDA’s ALS Division. They’ll help promote awareness of MDA’s leading efforts in the fight against ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, through public appearances, media interviews, speaking engagements and public service announcements.

Augie Nieto, 47, received a diagnosis of ALS in March. The neuromuscular disease has affected his upper-body strength and speech. Nieto is the co-founder and former president of Life Fitness, and is owner and chairman of the Octane Fitness Company, which designs and distributes elliptical cross-trainers.

Nieto recently was elected to a one-year term as an MDA national vice president. In September, he received the fitness industry’s Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association and the National Fitness Trade Show. He transformed the Las Vegas dinner and reception into a benefit for MDA’s ALS Division, raising more than $1 million.

Mattie-Carter GMA meeting voted Most Memorable

Mattie Stepanek & President Jimmy Carter

Viewers of the ABC morning show “Good Morning America” voted the surprise meeting between President Carter and MDA National Goodwill Ambassador Mattie Stepanek as the most memorable moment in the program’s 30-year history.

Stepanek was being interviewed on GMA Dec. 4, 2001, about his first best-selling “Heartsongs” poetry book when his hero, Carter, walked onto the set. The meeting ultimately led to a collaboration between the two on the book Just Peace: A Message of Hope, which is due in March from Andrews McMeel Publishing.

Stepanek died in June 2004 at 13.

MDA joins petitioners

Led by its National Task Force on Public Awareness, MDA has added its name to a petition opposing state policies that would adversely affect ventilator users.

Some states under pressure to reduce Medicaid costs are seeking either to deny payment for ventilation devices or to require ventilator users to enter nursing facilities in order to receive such services.

The International Ventilator Users Network, an information resource for users of home mechanical ventilation, created the petition, which will be forwarded to government officials, policy-makers, advocacy groups and the media.

MDA art on the move

The Garden
"The Garden" by Sarah Schwegel

“Transcending Barriers: Selections from the MDA Art Collection” is on display at the Sheldon Art Galleries in St. Louis.

The exhibit, which runs through Feb. 4, includes 36 pieces from young artists. The exhibit is highlighted by work from two Missouri youngsters, former MDA National Goodwill Ambassadors Morgan Fritz, 7, of St. Peters, and Sarah Schwegel, 12, of Kirkwood.

For exhibit hours and directions, call (314) 533-9900.

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