MDA’s Tribute Awards to Honor ‘Champions of Progress’ on Oct. 27

The 4 will be hailed as leaders in support of research, care, lobbying efforts

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by Mary Chapman |

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The Muscular Dystrophy Association will honor four people who have contributed to research, care, and lobbying on behalf of the disease.

The Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) will host the MDA Tribute Awards Oct. 27 in Boston to honor four people who have contributed to progress in muscular dystrophy research and care, and in lobbying efforts on behalf of those with neuromuscular disorders, particularly Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD).

The awards reception will be held from 6–8:30 p.m. (EST) at The Westin Copley Place. The awards acknowledge the work and legacy of those whose “extraordinary efforts” support the neuromuscular disease community, according to a press release.

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The MDA Tribute Awards tour has made stops in Las Vegas; Nashville, Tennessee; Houston; and St. Louis, Missouri.

Awards will be presented in Boston to:

  • Louis Kunkel, PhD, professor of genetics and pediatrics at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. A member of the MDA board, Kunkel has spent 40 years learning about  neuromuscular disorders and developing therapies for them. He is particularly known for his identification in 1986 of DMD as the gene, which, when mutated causes Duchenne.
  • Brenda Wong, MD, director of the MDA Care Center at UMass Chan Medical School, and director of its Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Center, where she provides patients with coordinated and collaborative care. Wong has published many papers on DMD, including one for the Neuromuscular Disorders Journal on Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy regarding the Integrated Practice Unit model.
  • Natalie Jacobson, “MDA Champion” and former news anchor with ABC affiliate WCVB-TV in Boston and MDA Telethon host. A “trailblazer” in television news, Jacobson’s memoir “Every Life a Story: Natalie Jacobson Reporting” was released in May and discusses her work in support of the neuromuscular community.
  • Tom Graney, an MDA Advocate for a Cure, and founding family member of the longstanding Fill the Boot effort that raises awareness and funds for the MDA. Graney, a retired deputy chief of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Local 76, is the son of the late George Graney, who had urged the IAFF to support the MDA.

“Hope for a longer, more independent life is now becoming a reality for people living with Duchenne muscular dystrophy and so many other related neuromuscular diseases. And the pipeline of promise — more life-empowering treatments and cures — is growing and creating ever more hope for the millions of patients and their families who are at the heart of the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s mission and vision,” Donald S. Wood, PhD, president and CEO of the MDA, said.

“We are pleased to bring together the MDA community in Boston — including our families, medical teams from our MDA Care Center Network, partners, and volunteers. We are honored to present the MDA Tribute Awards to these distinguished recipients who have all made critical contributions that continue to lead to breakthroughs in treatment and care,” Wood said.

Wood will join firefighters from IAFF Local 718 in Boston to reenact the first Fill the Boot event in honor of Graney and the Graney family at 9 a.m. Oct. 28. The event’s location will be announced.