MDA Matters May-June 2007

by Quest Staff on May 1, 2007 - 2:29pm

QUEST Vol. 14, No. 3

May is ALS Awareness Month

As part of the 16th annual national ALS Awareness Month, MDA offices across the country are holding special events in May to raise awareness and educate the public about ALS and MDA’s worldwide leadership in the search for a cure.

MDA has launched a special Web series called “ALS: Anyone’s Life Story,” which features the stories of individuals affected by ALS. You can see short profiles of 31 people, one for each day in May.

Inspired by MDA’s ALS Division Co-Chairperson Augie Nieto, who received a diagnosis of ALS in March 2005, the series will highlight how receiving a diagnosis of ALS has brought a new significance and perspective to each individual’s life.

MDA’s ALS Division has issued a new brochure, available at local MDA offices, that contains information about its ALS services, research and information programs. Another new MDA publication lists milestones in MDA’s ALS research effort.

In addition, the DVD for the award-winning film “So Much So Fast” is available to people registered with MDA for a special price of $24.95. The film, by Oscar-nominated directors Steven Ascher and Jeanne Jordan, documents five years in the life of Stephen Heywood, a designer and builder who received a diagnosis of ALS at age 29.

Determined to find a cure, Heywood’s brother, James, formed the ALS Therapy Development Foundation. Now the ALS Therapy Development Institute (TDI), the group joined forces with MDA in January, beginning the largest ALS drug discovery project in history. Purchase the DVD online, and click on the “MDA Member” link.

Since the 1950s, MDA has invested more than $210 million in ALS research and services.

Heartsongs gala earns $1 million

The fifth annual MDA Heartsongs Gala, named after the late MDA National Goodwill Ambassador Mattie Stepanek’s best-selling series of Heartsongs poetry books, raised more than $1 million for MDA’s research and services programs.

Hosted by Tony Perkins of WTTG-TV’s Fox 5, the March 10 Journey to a Cure event at Washington’s Marriott Wardman Park took some 600 guests on a tour of Asia. The event honored Hank Cominiello, president of Safeway’s Eastern Division, as the 2007 Heartsongs Award winner for his company’s steadfast support of the Association. Safeway is an MDA national sponsor.

Jeni Stepanek, Mattie’s mom and an MDA national vice president, was the keynote speaker. Comedian Larry Miller, the Filipino American Cultural Arts Society and the Radio King Orchestra entertained.

MDA celebrates 30 years with ERA

To help commemorate the 30th anniversary of MDA’s partnership with ERA Real Estate, four MDA leaders wowed some 5,000 ERA brokers, agents, associates and employees at the March ERA International Business Conference in Las Vegas.

Ed McMahon, Billy Gilman and Luke Christie
Ed McMahon, Luke Christie and Billy Gilman made a big hit at ERA's annual convention.

MDA Board member Ed McMahon, National Youth Chairman Billy Gilman and National Goodwill Ambassador Luke Christie briefed the crowd on MDA’s progress in several areas, and thanked them for their support and steadfast efforts in behalf of MDA.

During his presentation, McMahon introduced a four-minute video highlighting the MDA-ERA partnership, and presented the top MDA fund-raising award to ERA Key Realty Services in Milford, Mass., which raised $52,000 for the Association.

Gilman, who sang at the ERA meeting for the fourth year, introduced “a dear friend who happened to be backstage and wanted to say hello.” When MDA National Chairman Jerry Lewis appeared onstage, the crowd rose for a standing ovation. He reminisced about attending an ERA convention 30 years before in New Orleans and expressed his gratitude for ERA’s support.

McMahon, Gilman and Christie also attended a VIP recognition luncheon that honored top fund-raisers. They posed for photos with 150 guests and presented additional MDA awards.

Since ERA joined forces with the Association, its brokers and sales associates have raised $30 million to benefit “Jerry’s kids.” P.J. Martin Smith, ERA’s senior vice president of marketing, serves MDA as a national vice president.

On the road again

After the ERA conference, Billy Gilman and Luke Christie went their separate ways to meet with other MDA national sponsors and to attend several local MDA events.

Before leaving Las Vegas, Luke spoke at the National Child Care Association’s Annual Leadership Conference, where he addressed child care center owners and teachers from across the United States. He also made several special appearances at MDA’s booth to help promote MDA’s Hop-a-Thon program in preschools and day-care centers.

Gilman made a stop at MDA’s national headquarters in Tucson, Ariz., to tape an assortment of video messages, including MDA public service announcements and appeals for summer camp volunteers. Gilman, who’s held the national youth chair post since 2003, taped spots thanking MDA’s national sponsors, to be aired on the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon.

He also was slated to attend the DECA International Career Development Conference April 27-29 in Orlando. DECA, an MDA sponsor, is an association of high school and college marketing students and teachers.

No votes yet
MDA cannot respond to questions asked in the comments field. For help with questions, contact your local MDA office or clinic or email See comment policy