MDA to Host Annual Wings Over Wall Street Benefit to Raise Funds for ALS Research

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by Mary Chapman |

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The Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) will host its 18th annual Wings Over Wall Street benefit Oct. 17 to raise funds for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) research with the ultimate goal of defeating the disease, the nonprofit announced.

Presented by Investors Exchange and emceed by ABC affiliate WABC-TV co-anchor Bill Ritter, the event will be held at the IAC Building in New York City.

Several individuals will be honored at the event for helping to raise awareness of ALS by sharing their stories. Ruth Fitzmaurice, author of “I Found My Tribe,” a memoir about finding solace in the unexpected, will commemorate the first anniversary of the death of her husband, Simon Fitzmaurice. His memoir, “It’s Not Yet Dark,” deals with his experiences with ALS.

Also in attendance will be Sharlee Jeter, CEO of the Turn 2 Foundation and one of the authors of “The Stuff,” a book about overcoming challenges and, in this case, finding a cure for ALS, a nervous system disease that progressively weakens muscles and affects physical function. Jeter’s brother, former New York Yankees star Derek Jeter, founded Turn 2 in 1996 to promote healthy lifestyles among youth.

Other honorees include Anjan Aralihalli, a venture partner for CTI Life Sciences, who will receive the Beier Award for his work with biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies seeking to cure ALS. CTI Life Sciences is a Canadian venture firm.

Matthew B. Harms will receive the Diamond Award for directing a global effort using genetic sequencing techniques to bring precision medicine to ALS research and treatments. 

Claudia Fleming and Stephan Bogardus will be presented the Spirit Award for their fundraising efforts with Fleming’s late husband, Gerry Hayden, to find a cure for ALS. When Hayden, an expert in the farm-to-table concept, was diagnosed with ALS, Bogardus became crucial at the restaurant Hayden founded. Fleming is the proprietor and pastry chef at that Southold, New York, restaurant — North Fork Table & Inn — where Bogardus is executive chef.

“Wings Over Wall Street is a tremendous opportunity to spread the word about our mission and to raise critical funding to continue our work,” said Lynn O’Connor Vos, MDA’s president and CEO. “We are thankful for our sponsors and attendees, and also for those who are willing to share their personal stories of their experiences about living with ALS. Our honorees have contributed in so many ways to raise awareness.”

The benefit was established in 2001 by Toni Diamond, a former flight attendant who had ALS, and her husband, Warren Schiffer, with great support from Michael Beier. Following his ALS diagnosis, Beier eventually was named a national MDA vice president.

Since it began, the event has raised more than $11.5 million for the MDA. Tickets are available here.

Currently, the MDA is funding 47 ALS grants and has 48 designated ALS clinics servicing more than 13,400 patients.