The Mathew Forbes Romer Foundation Raises More Than $60,000 Celebrating it’s 10th Anniversary “Evening of Sweetness & Laughter”

Judy Levis Markhoff honored with the “See the Light” Award

BOCA RATON, Fla. – (February 17, 2009) – The Mathew Forbes Romer Foundation (MFRF) and 175 special guests celebrated its 10th Anniversary with a joyful “Evening of Sweetness & Laughter,” on Saturday, February 7th  at Broken Sound Country Club in Boca Raton.  The event raised more than $60,000 toward the mission of education and research of Children’s Genetic Diseases of the Brain.

Inspired by the strength of a little boy, Mathew, with the fatal Tay-Sachs disease, MFRF was founded in South Florida in 1998.

During the evening’s festivities, the Foundation honored longtime benefactor and friend Judy Levis Markhoff with its annual “See the Light” award for her outstanding support of genetic testing, education, and research programs in the South Florida community.  Ric Blackwell of WPEC-TV/CBS 12 served as master of ceremonies and guests were treated to the comedy of Jeff Caldwell from “The Late Show with David Letterman” and the energy and music of Euphoria. “The evening transported us from our beginning with the brief life of Mathew and many other affected children, through our accomplishments and partnerships with previous “See the Light” award recipients from various South Florida institutions, to the present where we are preventing and approaching cures for these fatal diseases,” said MFRF President Kevin Romer. Nineteen past “See the Light” honorees were also recognized during the event including U.S. Congressman Ron Klein; Richard Gold, former CEO of West Boca Medical Center;
Dr. Mislen Bauer, Miami Children’s Hospital medical geneticist; Ambassador David McClean Walters, pioneer of Miami Children’s Hospital; Dr. Anne Boykin, Dean of FAU College of Nursing; Dr. Harry Orf, Vice President of Scripps Florida; and Dr. Rodney Howell, former Chair of Pediatrics at The University of Miami and National Institutes of Health.
Major sponsors of the event included the Adolph and Rose Levis Foundation, Paul and Judy Levis Markhoff, BNY Mellon Wealth Management, West Boca Medical Center/Tenet Foundation, Akerman Senterfitt, Meran Group at Merrill Lynch and Harry and Linda Meran,  Baron Delivers on Demand, Wachovia Wealth Management, Miami Children’s Hospital, Carole Romer, and Lois and Herm Siegel.
Event co-chairs were Lisajane and Kevin Romer, Linda and Harry Meran and Bettina and Pablo Meles leading an outstanding committee of volunteers.
In 2008, The Mathew Forbes Romer Foundation surpassed the Million Dollar Milestone in fundraising with only 5% of the revenues generated going to administrative costs.  Programs that benefit from the support range from free genetic testing and education, regional and national research initiatives, and college scholarships and fellowships.
In November, MFRF teamed with The Victor Center for Jewish Genetic Diseases,  part of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine for The South Florida Jewish Genetic Diseases Educational Fair. Over the past six years, MFRF has delivered free genetic testing and education to more than 600 potential parents resulting in more than 20% being detected as carriers of at least one of a family of fatal genetic diseases.
In addition, The National Research Initiative, co-founded by MFRF and the National Tay-Sachs and Allied Diseases Association (NTSAD) network, has exceeded $1 million in funding leading to an additional $2 million in federal funding for research.  The Gene Therapy Consortium, which is supported by the Initiative, has announced an unprecedented goal of reaching clinical trails for Tay-Sachs disease in three to four years and has already demonstrated that treated mice can live full life spans!
The State Center for Rare and Genetic Neurological Diseases (CRGND), co-created with Florida Atlantic University, has helped mobilized 30 scientists around the subject of rare, genetic and neurological diseases.
MFRF funded four new Pediatric and Genetic Nursing Scholarship grants in 2008 for a total of 13.  These scholarships have assisted students at major South Florida colleges including Florida Atlantic University, Florida International University and Nova Southeastern University.
MFRF has also expanded support for the Neurogenetic Patient Registry, now tracking more than 500 children through Miami Children’s Hospital (MCH) Brain Institute and the Pediatric Genetics Residency & Fellowship with MCH in partnership with The University of Miami School of Medicine.
Kevin and Lisajane Romer have also been honored by The Palm Beach County Medical Society “Heroes in Medicine” program for the Foundation’s work.
For more information, call The Mathew Forbes Romer Foundation at (561) 477-0337 or visit

About the Mathew Forbes Romer Foundation
The Mathew Forbes Romer Foundation (MFRF), established in 1998, is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization under section 501(c) (3) of the IRS code that drives education and research of children’s genetics diseases of the brain.  In 2007, the Foundation surpassed the Million Dollar Milestone in fundraising.  MFRF is the South Florida affiliate of National Tay-Sachs and Allied Diseases Association (NTSAD),a  member of the Jewish Genetic Disease Consortium (JGDC) and listed with the National Organization of Rare Disorders (NORD).  Now celebrating its tenth anniversary,  MFRF  is committed to increasing access to quality genetic testing, facilitating research of genetic diseases and bringing diagnostic and treatment options to South Florida.

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