BOCA RATON, Fla. – (December 4, 2007) The Mathew Forbes Romer Foundation (MFRF) will honor Walt Mickens, Chief Executive Officer of West Boca Medical Center/Tenet Healthcare Systems, and Lois Victor, Founder of The Victor Centers for Jewish Genetic Diseases, at its annual “See the Light” Awards Ceremony on Saturday, January 12, 2008 at The Broward Center for the Performing Arts.
Inspired by the strength of a little boy with the fatal Tay-Sachs disease, MFRF was founded in South Florida in 1998 to support education and research of children’s genetics diseases of the brain.
“This special evening is our major fundraising event of the year and an opportunity to honor Walt Mickens and Lois Victor with our “See the Light” Awards for their outstanding contributions in pioneering and delivering genetic testing and education programs in our community and throughout the country,” said MFRF president Kevin Romer.
Under the leadership of CEO Walt Mickens, West Boca Medical Center is the charter and lead sponsor of five-year long Mathew Forbes Romer Foundation South Florida Genetic Testing and Education Fair and has provided a team of nurses, phlebotomists and physicians along with important funding to support the delivery of free screening for fatal genetic diseases to nearly 600 potential parents.
“We believe the South Florida Genetic Testing and Education Fair is an important community outreach that compliments the outstanding maternity services that we provide at our hospital,” said Mickens. “I’m pleased to be recognized with the “See the Light” Award and I value the partnership we have with the Foundation in bringing this important genetic carrier screening to the community.”
A native on Long Branch, New Jersey, Mickens began his 25-year healthcare career in the same hospital where he was born. He was named CEO of West Boca Medical Center in September 2003 after serving as Chief Operating Officer of Parkway Regional Medical Center in North Miami Beach. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce and a board and executive committee member of the South Florida Hospital & Healthcare Association.
Lois Victor is the Founder of the Victor Center for Jewish Genetic Diseases at the Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, the Victor Outreach Program at Tufts-New England Medical Center in Boston, and the recently opened Victor Center at The University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
A native of Boston, Lois is a long-time resident of Florida who lost both of her children to a Jewish Genetic Disease. She has made it her mission to make sure that other children and their families need not be subjected to the heartaches of preventable diseases.
“The purpose of our Centers is to further the awareness, education and prevention of Ashkenazi Jewish Genetic Diseases and I’m proud to be honored with the “See the Light” Award for this effort,” said Victor. “Working together with The Mathew Forbes Romer Foundation we can enhance the quality and reach of all of our programs and services.”
The “See the Light” Awards Ceremony and dinner buffet will begin at 6 p.m. followed by “An Evening of Sweetness & Laughter” including the Tony Award-winning musical comedy sensation “The Drowsy Chaperone” and the sweetness of a gourmet dessert reception.
Tickets are $175 per person. Early reservations and sponsorships are also encouraged for prime seating.
Major sponsors of an “Evening of Sweetness and Laughter” include the Adolph and Rose Levis Foundation, Judy Levis Markhoff, Tyco International, Akerman Senterfitt, Baron Delivers on Demand and Wachovia.
In 2007, The Mathew Forbes Romer Foundation surpassed the Million Dollar Milestone in fundraising with only 5% of the money raised going to administrative costs.
In October, MFRF presented The Fifth Annual South Florida Genetic Testing and Education Fairs at The Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing at Florida Atlantic University and for the first time in Broward County at Broward General Medical Center. To date, of the nearly 600 potential parents who have receive free genetic testing, more than 20% of those tested have been detected as carriers of at least one of six fatal genetic diseases including Tay-Sachs, Canavan, Cystic Fibrosis, Familial Dysautonomia, Gaucher and Niemann-Pick.
The National Research Initiative, co-founded by MFRF, has exceeded $800,000 in funding from its network with the National Tay-Sachs and Allied Diseases Association (NTSAD) leading to an additional $2 million in federal funding for research. Its 15th Research Initiative grant went to the new Gene Therapy Consortium with four institutions announcing an unprecedented goal of reaching clinical trials for Tay-Sachs disease in three years.
MFRF also awarded its eighth and ninth Pediatric and Genetic Nursing Scholarships in 2007. To date, these scholarships have assisted students at major South Florida colleges including Florida Atlantic University, Florida International University and Nova Southeastern University.
A Platinum Sponsor with Scripps Florida of the second annual Florida Biosciences Career & Education Expo, MFRF marked Florida Biosciences and National DNA Month last Spring by creating a “Make Your Own DNA Necklace” program at the Spring Children’s Fair. Hundreds of children collected their own DNA (from their saliva) to make “cool” necklaces in glass vials.
MFRF has also expanded support for the Pediatric Genetics Residency & Fellowship with Miami Children’s Hospital Brain Institute and was named one of the select member organizations of the national Jewish Genetic Disease Consortium (JGDC) to educate medical professionals, rabbis and the Ashkenazi Jewish population about carrier screening.
To make reservations for “An Evening of Sweetness & Laughter”, call The Mathew Forbes Romer Foundation at (561) 477-0337.