NORWALK, Conn., Oct. 30, 2007 (PRIME NEWSWIRE) -- The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) raised a record-breaking amount of over $2 million at its 11th annual "Friends for Life" Fall Gala held on Oct. 27, 2007. More than 1100 people gathered at the Greenwich Hyatt in Greenwich, Conn. on Saturday night to support the MMRF's mission of accelerating a cure for multiple myeloma. The gala was the largest non-profit event held this year in Fairfield County, Conn.
Deborah Norville, host of Inside Edition, served as Mistress of Ceremonies. Other honored guests included Don Baylor, former MLB player and coach, and myeloma patient; Melanie Bloom, widow of NBC news correspondent David Bloom; Geraldine Ferraro, former congresswoman and myeloma patient; Congressman Christopher Shays; Brian Williams, anchor and managing editor, NBC Nightly News, and Bob Woodruff, ABC news anchor. A taped message from Senator Barack Obama started the evening off, congratulating the night's honorees.
The theme of the "Friends for Life" Fall Gala was "Heroes: A Night of Triumph and Inspiration." In line with this year's theme, founder of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, cancer survivor and Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong was presented with the Spirit of Hope award during the festivities. The MMRF's Spirit of Hope is awarded annually to an individual who inspires hope with his or her determination and perseverance in overcoming personal obstacles such as a cancer diagnosis.
"Cancer doesn't care if you are black or white, young or old, rich or poor. Cancer is a crisis, an epidemic that ought to be a national priority," said Armstrong. "Our partner in helping us make this happen has been Kathy Giusti and the MMRF. I can't wait for the future, because I think we're going to make a real difference together."
In addition, Robert Wolf, chairman and chief executive officer, UBS Group Americas, was presented with the Corporate Leadership Award at the Gala. The Corporate Leadership Award honors prominent business leaders who have gone above and beyond in supporting the MMRF in pursuit of its mission. Wolf, who is a former member of the MMRF's Board of Directors and currently sits on the Foundation's Leadership Council, served as the event's Gala Chairman.
"We need role models like Lance Armstrong who could have rested on his legend but instead chose to use his own personal experience to become a champion for cancer," said Wolf. "We need innovators like Kathy Giusti who, despite her own personal difficulties and the needs of her family -- and perhaps because of them -- fights every day for scientific breakthroughs to extend the lives of others. And nothing can break her will & determination."
The MMRF is a charitable organization founded by Kathy Giusti, a myeloma survivor and her twin sister, Karen Andrews, in 1998. Under Kathy's guidance and with her unique perspective as patient, ex-pharmaceutical executive, advocate and project director, the MMRF funds myeloma research, brings together the experts in myeloma and facilitates standardized clinical trials. Nine years after its founding, the MMRF has raised more than $85 million, using 95 cents of every dollar to directly support its mission of accelerating the search for a cure. In that time, the MMRF has helped bring four Myeloma drugs to market, studied more than 30 compounds, and is currently working with 15 different biotech and pharmaceutical companies to facilitate the opening of eight clinical trials with three more planned for 2007. The organization has also created the only tissue bank in multiple myeloma and is working with top researchers in the country to map the myeloma genome.
"The MMRF is proud that more than 95 percent of the money raised at this record-breaking gala will go directly towards innovative research programs that will expedite the development of new and effective treatment options for multiple myeloma," said Kathy Giusti. "I'd like to thank everyone who participated in the gala, especially Lance and Robert, for their continued support and encouragement in helping us to get closer to our goal of a cure for myeloma."
About the MMRF
The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) was established in 1998 as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization by twin sisters Karen Andrews and Kathy Giusti, a newly diagnosed multiple myeloma patient, with the unique mission of accelerating the search for a cure for multiple myeloma. As the world's number one funder of myeloma research, the MMRF has raised more than $85 million to fund more than 215 research grants at more than 75 research institutions around the globe. Currently, the MMRF is funding more than 30 new compounds and approaches -- in pre-clinical testing and Phase I, II and III clinical trials -- that show promise in treating patients at all stages of the disease. For more information about the MMRF, please visit www.multiplemyeloma.org.
About Multiple Myeloma
Multiple myeloma is an incurable cancer of the plasma cell, with a five-year survival rate of only 32 percent -- one of the lowest of all cancers. Approximately 50,000 people in the United States are living with multiple myeloma and an estimated 16,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. Although the peak age of onset of multiple myeloma is 65 to 70 years of age, recent statistics suggest that incidence is increasing and at an earlier age.
Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation Anne Walker 203-652-0205 (photos available)