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Tickets on sale for key ALS clinic fund raiser

By Staff | Apr 2, 2011

Tickets are now available for the second annual ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) clinic fund raiser that is set for May 7.
The event is sponsored by Broadway Palm Theatre.
Toni Matison-Horn said her husband, Harry Horn, was diagnosed with ALS in 2004 and the family “lost him to the disease in August of 2005.” She said he was the main anchor on ABC news and was a huge advocate of raising funds for the disease.
He really wanted to see a clinic for patients in the Fort Myers area for families to go because the Horns had to travel to St. Petersburg to receive treatment and see speciality doctors.
Nancy Bailey also lost her husband, at the age of 43, to ALS. She said since he did not have medical insurance they would travel back and forth to the University of Miami to participate in drug trials to receive some kind of care.
“It was tough,” she said. “ALS is a very expensive disease.”
Matison-Horn said Bailey was a huge support for her after Harry was diagnosed with the disease.
Carol Emmick, ALS Outpatient Clinic coordinator, said Bailey and Matison-Horn, along with several patients, went to the board of directors to find out if the Lee Memorial Health System would be interested in starting a clinic.
“We did some research and opened in 2009,” Emmick said.
Bailey said having the clinic in the community is crucial because it eliminates the travel time for patients.
“Lee Memorial Health System did a great thing,” she said. “They stepped up to the plate and did a great thing in this town for many patients.”
The two women got together after they heard about the clinic opening and they decided they wanted to hold an annual fund raiser so the clinic could remain open.
Matison-Horn said they wanted to hold fund raisers to keep the clinic going and provide a place where patients could go so they would not have to drive two hours for service as they did before.
“We try to do our best to help the people coming behind us,” Matison-Horn said.
Bailey said when you are touched by ALS it is very hard to move beyond its implications on your life and family.
Emmick said patients come to the Plantation Outpatient Center where they see various speciality groups that can help them with their disease on the second Saturday of every month. Those groups include a registered dietician, physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech therapist, respiratory therapist, social worker and neurologist.
The Outpatient Center is one floor that has wheelchair access, so the patients can come right through the door and go into one of the patient rooms. Emmick said the patient stays in one room as each speciality doctor makes his or her rounds to each room.
“The patient is not required to move out of that room,” she said.
The clinic also has many trained volunteers who have either lost a loved one to the disease or are dealing with the process of the disease now.
“Everyone at the clinic knows what the patient and family members are going through,” Emmick said. She said when there is a delay in the doctors seeing a patient the volunteer will also talk to the family members and patients about the disease and try to comfort them.
Although 55 patients have come through the door, Emmick said, unfortunately, that is just the tip of the iceberg of the patients needing help.
“We can make the time you have here quality time,” she said.
All of the money raised during the fund-raising event will go directly into the Lee Memorial Health System Foundation ALS Clinic account.
The event will be held at Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre on May 7 with a pre-show cocktail reception and silent auction at 5 p.m., dinner at 6 p.m. and the production of “Rent” at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $60 per person. Bailey said seating is limited with 103 tickets they have available for the event. To purchase tickets call Bailey at (239) 707-5742.
The silent auction will include a spa and resort package, art and special treasures for the women. Mark Loren of Mark Loren Designs will also feature jewelry that was created specifically for the fund-raiser at the event. The raffle tickets for the $2,500 piece of jewelry are $50. The event will feature a tie raffle for men with national, regional and local celebrities.
Matison-Horn said Harry had a huge collection of ties since he was on the air all the time, so they thought they would have some fun with them during the event.
Last year, they raised approximately $11,000 for the clinic.
Those who cannot attend the event, but would still like to make a donation, can do so by sending a contribution to the Lee Memorial Health System Foundation, 9800 South HealthPark Drive, No. 210, Fort Myers, Fl 33908.
“The neat thing about this fund raiser is all the money stays in Lee County,” Emmick said. “This money is for patients that cannot pay for certain things … if they can’t pay their bill for things associated with their disease. This fund raiser is for the patient.”