A renewed commitment to our families and a new, revitalized look for MDA. More resources for young adults. Enhanced standards at MDA Care Centers. A National Resource Center for MDA families seeking services, advice and answers. And a continued focus on funding the best science and research anywhere in the world.
In January 2016, I shared with you these goals — and more — as part of our plan for the year ahead. It was an ambitious blueprint, full of changes and improvements — all designed to help us fulfill our mission promise to free individuals and families from the harmful effects of muscular dystrophy and related life-threatening diseases.
Now, looking back on our journey this year, I am proud to say we achieved all we set out to and more. As 2016 draws to a close, I want to highlight what you, our supporters, made possible:
- Twenty-five years ago, MDA became the first organization to support research into exon-skipping drugs. Thanks in part to this long-term commitment, the first disease modifying drug to treat the underlying cause of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (Exondys51/eteplirsen) received accelerated approval by the FDA this year.
- To accelerate the next groundbreaking therapies, MDA invested $17 million in nearly 70 research grants this year to speed treatments and cures to families.
- This past summer, about 3,800 kids attended nearly 75 MDA Summer Camps across the country. Thanks to a nearly $8 million investment, these children experienced camp at no cost to their families. And thanks to the dedication of more than 4,500 volunteer counselors and medical staff, more than 9 out of 10 parents said MDA Summer Camp increased their child’s confidence and helped them become more independent.
- In the six months since we launched a new National Resource Center to connect MDA families with one-on-one assistance, our resource specialists have helped 10,000 individuals get services and support.
- As part of our commitment to care for kids and adults from day one, MDA gave nearly $7 million in grants to top hospitals and health care facilities to ensure MDA families receive the best, most comprehensive health care at more than 150 MDA Care Centers.
- All told, we supported more 100,000 families with neuromuscular disease, providing them with help, resources and hope.
These accomplishments and advances would not have been possible without the dedication, passion and commitment of hundreds of thousands of supporters. One by one, generous individuals said “yes” to join and support us to bring strength, independence and life to kids and adults. Some powerful examples from 2016:
- 100,000 fire fighters filled their boots on street corners in hometowns across America, collecting spare change and small donations that add up to an enormous impact.
- More than 50,000 people participated in Muscle Walks, bringing strength to life with every step for MDA families.
- Nearly 25,000 retailers sold MDA Shamrocks in their stores to millions of consumers.
- More than 25,000 business people did a little time for a lot of good when they got “locked up” for MDA.
- Nearly 1,000 runners and walkers joined MDA’s Team Momentum to complete a marathon or half marathon.
On behalf of all of us at MDA, thank you for being part of a momentous year and for standing with us as we build a better future for our entire community. Together, we will continue to push for cures, care for families and champion our mission to help everyone live longer, grow stronger and continue living unlimited.
Happy Holidays and our warmest wishes for a healthy, joyful 2017.