MDA Matters July-August 2007

by Quest Staff on July 1, 2007 - 10:40am

QUEST Vol. 14, No. 4

Mattie in the News

In Rockville, Md., the week of July 2 has been proclaimed Mattie Stepanek Week. On July 4, the city will hold a Mattie’s Heartsongs Swim to help raise funds for the bronze statue of the late MDA National Goodwill Ambassador and his service dog, Micah, which will be the focal point of the new Mattie J.T. Stepanek Park at King Farm in Mattie’s hometown.

In May, “Good Morning America” paid a special tribute to Mattie, announcing that his final book, Just Peace: A Message of Hope, received a gold medal in the 2007 Independent Publisher Book Awards’ Outstanding Books of the Year competition. The book earned the top honor in the first-ever Peacemaker of the Year category.

The book, which includes Mattie’s writings and e-mail correspondence with President Jimmy Carter, was compiled and edited by his mother, Jeni, after the young poet’s death in 2004.

On May 30, USA Today honored Mattie in an article entitled “Lives of Indelible Impact,” which highlighted the accomplishments of 25 people who made a difference in the past quarter-century. Mattie shared space with Nelson Mandela, the Challenger astronauts and other luminaries.

Fun in the sun: filling boots & smiling in the aisles

The International Association of Fire Fighters’ Fill-the-Boot campaign for MDA is a time-honored summer fund-raising tradition. Each year, members of hundreds of IAFF locals across the country invite the public at intersections, malls and sporting events to fill a fire fighter’s boot with donations for MDA. And, in the spirit of service and friendly competition, fire fighters vie to raise the most money for “Jerry’s kids.”

Founded by the late fire fighter George Graney, Fill-the-Boot began in 1953 when a friend, Charlie Crowley, approached Graney in South Boston. Crowley needed money to take care of his two sons with muscular dystrophy, so Graney rounded up 20 fire fighters and started a door-to-door canister drive, raising $5,000.

Since taking up the MDA cause nationwide in 1954, fire fighters have raised nearly $300 million for MDA’s lifesaving research, services and information programs. In 2006, Fill-the-Boot campaigns helped fire fighters raise a record $23.5 million — the highest yearly contribution ever from an MDA sponsor. The IAFF is MDA’s largest sponsor.

Keep your eyes open this summer for Fill-the-Boot activities benefiting MDA programs in your area.

Grocery stores and other retailers are transforming their stores into Aisles of Smiles to benefit MDA this summer. As consumers purchase products at great prices or buy mobiles with the Aisles logo, participating manufacturers guarantee a donation to MDA from every marked product that’s sold.

More than two decades ago, the father of a child with a neuromuscular disease proposed the idea for the program, and it generated $50,000 in the first year. In 2006, the in-store Aisles of Smiles campaign and special events, involving more than 120 retail chains and outlets, raised about $11 million for MDA.

Be sure to watch for the program logo in your supermarket aisles, and don’t forget to smile!

Stars shine for MDA

A Night Under the Stars brought in $433,425 for MDA’s research and summer camp programs. The spring gala held April 21 at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif., drew some 460 guests.

Event chairwoman and MDA Board member Timmi Masters organized the 21st annual Los Angeles event, the major sponsor of which was Albertsons.

The black-tie evening was hosted by two Olympic gold-medalist gymnasts — Bart Conner, an MDA Board member, and his wife, Nadia Comaneci, an MDA national vice president. The gala honored Al Stefl of Malibu, Calif., former senior vice president of Nestlé USA, with the 2007 Dennis Day Memorial Award for his staunch support of MDA’s fund-raising efforts and ALS research.

David Cobb, president and CEO of BentleyForbes in Los Angeles, received the Humanitarian Award, and Poppy Paulos of Beverly Hills received the Committee Service Award for her 18 years as a gala committee member.

The Albertsons Courage Award was presented posthumously to Jeff Cassineri of Los Angeles for his courageous fight against ALS and his involvement with MDA events. Cassineri, who received a diagnosis of ALS in November 2002, lost his battle in February.

MDA kids strike a pose for a cure

In April, seven youngsters affected by neuromuscular diseases volunteered their time to participate in a two-day photo session at Westward Look Resort near MDA’s national headquarters in Tucson, Ariz.

The photos will be featured in promotional materials for MDA’s public health education and information programs, public service announcements and fund-raising materials for MDA programs such as Shamrocks Against Dystrophy, Hop-a-Thon and Lock-Up.

Some of the kids also taped video messages, including spots thanking MDA’s sponsors and volunteers for their support.


Destiny Muniz strikes a pose. Photo by Rick Peterson/2007
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