The journey continues to arrive at a cure for the degenerative neuro-muscular disease Friedreich’s ataxia. You can’t ask for more devoted guides than Paul and Suzanne Avery, who celebrated their 34th wedding anniversary Saturday by raising more than $2.2 million at the 10th FARA Energy Ball to develop more drugs and gene therapies for their daughters Laurel and Allison Avery and others aided by the Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance and the University of South Florida Ataxia Research Center.
“We’re going to get it done,” said Ron Bartek, president and co-founder of FARA, who was joined by the organization’s four other founding board members at the Marriott Waterside ballroom, including neuroscientist Massimo Pandolfo who discovered the FXN gene mutation.
Sharing in the enthusiasm were emcee Wendy Ryan; Journey to the Cure co-chairs for the third year, Janell and Tampa Bay Lightning CEO Steve Griggs; and 725 guests. They included Tom and Karen Hamilton and Bill and Patty Finneran, who offered to match all Fund A Cure donations up to a $1 million. The tally rose to $530,000 which instantly became $1.6 million.
Scott Robertson’s live auction was also off the chain: Two $35,000 bids for Abaco Island vacations (via private jet); two Patron Tequila trips sold for $20,000 each; and two visits to the Avery ranch in Montana raised $35,000 each.
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