News Release

ALS Research and Patient Care at Miller School Get $1 Million Boost

Gift expands upon existing programs and creates additional resources.

MIAMI, November 6, 2012 —The ALS Recovery Fund, a steadfast ally in the fight against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, has pledged another $1 million to the Department of Neurology for its continued ALS research and patient support.

The gift will expand upon the Miller School of Medicine’s existing programs and provide additional resources, including researchers and a dedicated health care professional to coordinate the unification and integration of the ALS Clinical and Research Programs.

Kevin E. Packman, chairman and CEO of the ALS Recovery Fund, learned of the devastation of ALS firsthand when his father was diagnosed with the deadly disease. At the time, little was known about ALS, and there were no resources in South Florida.

That’s why Packman and his mother, Cila Packman, vice president of the ALS Recovery Fund, set out to make sure no family suffered from a lack of information and began a public awareness campaign—efforts that later led to the formation of the ALS Recovery Foundation and its patient care fund. 
“This gift will permit us to continue to enhance and expand the care provided to ALS patients in South Florida,” Kevin Packman said.

Adam J. Silverman, who serves as president of the ALS Recovery Fund, joined the Packmans and Donna Singer, executive vice president of the ALS Recovery Fund, helping to raise awareness and crucial funds for research and better patient care.

“Not enough is done in the area of ALS research,” Silverman said. “There are no survivors or success stories in ALS. This gift continues to build on the world-class ALS programs at the Miller School, and through our continued partnership, we will solve the mystery surrounding this terminal illness.”

Around the same time that the Packmans started their campaign, another South Florida family, the Perezes, established the University of Miami ALS Research Foundation to raise money for research. Perez patriarch and ALS patient Jose Perez established the foundation, and his sons, Jose and Alberto, have carried on the ALS fight in their father’s name.

“We are indebted to the University of Miami and the amazing doctors, who provided my father with the best care, bar none,” Alberto Perez said. “When you can give a patient hope, that’s priceless. And this is a great way to do just that—fight for patients who are suffering from this terrible disease, find a cure for future patients, and continue my father’s legacy.”

In 2005 the ALS Recovery Foundation and the UM ALS Research Foundation joined together to form the ALS Recovery Fund, a grassroots organization reliant solely on volunteers. Together, they pledged $1 million to establish the Walter Bradley Endowed Chair for ALS Research, in honor of Walter G. Bradley, professor and chairman emeritus of neurology. The position is currently held by Michael G. Benatar, associate professor of neurology and chief of the Neuromuscular Division.

“The generosity of the ALS Recovery Fund greatly enhances our dual mission of providing care for ALS patients and undertaking groundbreaking research to advance our progress toward an effective treatment for patients with this disease,” Benatar said.

As the quest for medical advances continues, the Recovery Fund is actively raising money with help from many community members.

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Momentum2: The Breakthrough Campaign for the University of Miami seeks to advance learning, elevate scholarship, and make bold strides in health care in the community, across the country, and around the world. Momentum2 comes on the heels of the institution’s record-breaking Momentum: The Campaign for the University of Miami, which concluded at the end of 2007 and raised more than $1.4 billion for endowed chairs and professorships, scholarships, facilities, academic and medical programs, and other initiatives.

The University of Miami’s mission is to educate and nurture students, to create knowledge, and to provide service to our community and beyond. Committed to excellence and proud of our diversity of our University family, we strive to develop future leaders of our nation and the world.

UM Announces $1B
From left, Michael Benatar, Donna M. Singer, Adam J. Silverman, Alberto J. Perez, Cila Packman, and Kevin E. Packman.