On Friday, November 2nd, several PatientsLikeMe team members donned their finest to attend the 2nd Annual White Coat Affair, a charity gala benefiting the ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI). Founded by PatientsLikeMe Co-Founder and Chairman Jamie Heywood in 1999, ALS TDI is the world’s most advanced research laboratory dedicated to ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
This gala fundraiser was held in conjunction with ALS TDI’s 8th Annual Leadership Summit, which included in-depth scientific presentations by top ALS researchers, a discussion panel with industry leaders and an awards ceremony honoring individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to ALS research and advocacy. (View the summit webcast here.) PatientsLikeMe was a proud sponsor of this annual gathering of the most influential minds in the ALS community. In particular, we were honored to witness the posthumous awarding of the Stephen Heywood Patients Today Award – given annually to an individual who exemplifies what it means to be an educator, role model and advocate – to beloved PatientsLikeMe member Persevering (Rob Tison).
Held at the Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston the next night, A White Coat Affair was an opportunity for summit attendees to unwind and socialize via cocktails, a dinner program, live music and dancing. In honor of the theme, servers wore white lab coats, name cards were labeled like the periodic table and vases were filled with brightly colored liquid to resemble lab tubes. A special highlight of the dinner program this year was the Young Perspectives on ALS segment, which featured the stories of two young people living with ALS (Corey Reich and Pete Frates) as well as four young people who are the children of ALS patients (Katie Shambo, Sam Ketchum, Jenn Sutherland and Alex Heywood).
As you might have guessed, Alex Heywood is the son of Stephen Heywood and nephew of PatientsLikeMe Co-Founders Jamie Heywood and Ben Heywood. Both ALS TDI and PatientsLikeMe were inspired by Stephen’s seven-year battle with ALS, a rapidly progressive neurodegenerative disease with an average life expectancy of two to five years following diagnosis.
Approximately 350 guests attended A White Coat Affair, helping to raise $450,000 towards ALS TDI’s efforts to discover and develop effective treatments for ALS. After a decade of progress, the institute is entering a time of great promise, with several therapies in clinical trials and their own work on Gilenya (a drug currently approved for treating multiple sclerosis) and other potential therapeutics moving into the clinical realm. Learn more about ALS TDI’s current research projects here.
To see more photos from the 2nd Annual White Coat Affair, visit the event’s Facebook page.