MDA Matters November-December 2007

by Quest Staff on November 1, 2007 - 9:19am

QUEST Vol. 14, No. 6
Featured in this issue: Howell receives award ** flu shots **  Jerry Lewis named top celebrity ** Personal Achievement Awards ** Wings Over Wall Street ** Tradition of Hope Gala ** Nieto publishes book ** Holiday donations to MDA ** New annual report

Howell receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Pediatrician R. Rodney Howell, chairman of MDA’s Board of Directors, is the 2007 recipient of the William G. Anlyan, M.D., Lifetime Achievement Award from Duke Medical Center.

R. Rodney Howell
R. Rodney Howell

The national award goes to School of Medicine or house staff alumni, or School of Medicine faculty, for extraordinary leadership and accomplishment in the field of medicine. Howell accepted the award at a luncheon reception at Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club in Durham, N.C., Oct. 12.

A graduate of Duke University’s School of Medicine, Howell has overseen programs in pediatrics and genetics at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, and the University of Texas Medical School in Houston. He’s a professor and chair emeritus of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Miami School of Medicine. He currently serves as special assistant to the director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health in Washington, where he oversees the NIHCD research initiative in genetic screening for newborns.

Howell has authored more than 150 scientific articles and books, and has served on numerous committees and advisory boards of medical organizations concerned with childhood genetic diseases. He was president of the board of the American College of Medical Genetics Foundation from 2003 to 2005, and serves on the college’s Newborn Screening Expert Group, which recommends criteria for standard tests of genetic diseases in newborns.

Get your flu shot

Influenza can be dangerous for people with neuromuscular diseases. That’s why MDA offers flu shots each fall to those it serves.

For information, call your local MDA office. If you have an autoimmune disease or are taking immunosuppressant drugs, including prednisone, check with your doctor before getting a flu shot.

It takes about two weeks for protection to develop after the vaccination, and protection can last up to a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Some flu shot myths and facts:

Myth: The vaccine can give you the flu.
Fact: The viruses in the flu shot are inactivated, so you can’t get the flu from a shot.

Myth: You must get a flu shot before December.
The best time is October or November, but a shot in December or later will be beneficial since most influenza activity occurs in January or later.

Tops in the nation

Jerry Lewis

A national survey confirms what we’ve always known: Jerry Lewis is the top-rated celebrity in the country for getting the word out and driving change for the cause he supports.

The survey by Nationwide Mutual Insurance shows that Americans tend to support causes based on celebrities they admire - and Lewis is number one on the survey’s list of the “Top 10 Most Influential Celebrities.”

Others on the list include Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Angelina Jolie and U2’s Bono. Lewis has worked tirelessly for MDA’s mission since the mid-1950s, raising awareness of neuromuscular diseases and hundreds of millions of dollars for vital research and services.

And the nominees are …

MDA’s 17th annual Personal Achievement Awards program is under way. The deadline is in late January. Anyone can submit a nomination. Pick up nomination forms and guidelines at your local MDA office.

The awards — presented at local, state and national levels — recognize the achievements and community involvement of people nationwide who are affected by neuromuscular diseases. Each year, MDA selects its national award recipient from the slate of state honorees. The national winner is announced on the Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon.

Mike Neufeldt of New Berlin, Wis., is the 2008 national award recipient.

‘Wings’ soars high

David Deutsch received the Spirit Award
David Deutsch (center) and wife Dorothy (right) of West Sayville, N.Y., received the Spirit Award for their commitment to raising ALS awareness and research funding. David, 39, who received an ALS diagnosis in 2004, is pictured at the Wings event with teacher Don Strasser (left) and students from Northport High School, where he taught biology.

Celebrities and New York financial leaders raised more than $787,000 at MDA’s seventh annual Wings Over Wall Street gala Sept. 20. Since its inception, the event has raised some $7 million for MDA’s ALS research program.

Business reporter Liz Claman hosted the evening’s VIP cocktail reception and live and silent auctions. More than 700 people attended the event, sponsored by the Credit Suisse Group.

Tom Rice, managing director in equities for the Credit Suisse Group, and Brian O’Day, senior vice president for Pulse Trading, were the event’s co-chairs. Three awards also were given for outstanding contributions to the fight against ALS.

‘Tradition’ benefits Augie’s Quest

The second annual Tradition of Hope Gala, held at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles Sept. 15, raised $630,000 to benefit MDA’s ALS research initiative Augie’s Quest.

Cappello and Niento Families
MDA ALS Division co-chairs Augie (center) and Lynne (far left) Nieto were joined by award recipient Alex Cappello, wife Linda, and daughters Francesca (left) and Sophia.

Hosted by “Entertainment Tonight” anchor Jann Carl, who’s also an MDA national vice president, the event honored Alexander L. Cappello, chairman and CEO of the Cappello Group. Cappello received the Robert Ross Founder’s Award for his outstanding contributions to MDA.

Some 250 guests were treated to a special performance by John Ondrasik, the Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter of Five for Fighting.

Fitness pioneer Augie Nieto spearheads the MDA Augie’s Quest research initiative, through which more than $10 million has been allocated to benefit the ALS Division’s research program.

Nieto is co-founder and former president of Life Fitness, and chairman of Octane Fitness. He and his wife, Lynne, serve as co-chairpersons of MDA’s ALS Division. Nieto received a diagnosis of ALS in March 2005.

Nieto publishes story of his journey with ALS

In addition to his many other activities, Augie Nieto has a book coming out November 13 called Augie’s Quest: One Man’s Journey from Success to Significance (Bloomsbury USA). Written with author T.R. Pearson, the book delves into Nieto’s physical and emotional journey with ALS, and the development of the fast-track entrepreneurial approach to medical research that became known as Augie’s Quest.

Nieto discusses his depression and attempted suicide after learning he had ALS and how, when he awoke from a coma surrounded by family and friends, his sense of faith and mission were renewed. Part inspiration, part business innovation, Augie’s Quest illustrates how one person can make a meaningful difference. The book can be ordered on

Season of giving

This holiday season, please remember to put MDA on your gift list, and support MDA’s quest for better treatments and cures.

Your holiday contribution before the end of 2007 will help save lives and give hope to hundreds of thousands of people with neuromuscular diseases. And, it’s tax deductible.

To make a secure contribution, click here or call (800) FIGHT-MD.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)
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