Mathew Forbes Romer Foundation Raises Funds and Friends During an “Evening of Sweetness and Laughter”

Scripps Dr. Harry Orf and Broward’s Dr. Neal Weinreb honored with “See the Light” Awards

BOCA RATON, Fla. – (February 1, 2006) – A successful “Evening of Sweetness and Laughter” raised more than $100,000 and many new friends for The Mathew Forbes Romer Foundation (MFRF) on Sunday, January 22.
The festive evening included a performance and private party with the nationally renowned satirical comedy troupe “The Capitol Steps”, a buffet dinner, a gourmet dessert reception and exotic raffle packages 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.
“It is a very exciting time in South Florida as we partner with leading institutions including Miami Children’s Hospital, The University of Miami, Florida Atlantic University and now Scripps Florida to support leading genetic researchers and educators in our area,” said MFRF President Kevin Romer.  “Our work was begun to honor our son Mathew’s life and legacy, and it is important that we continue to move forward expediently to foster this important work that will benefit so many people, especially our children.”
During the pre-show festivities, the Foundation presented a stirring video to recap its recent accomplishments and to honor Dr. Harry Orf, Vice President for Scientific Operations for Scripps Florida, and Dr. Neal Weinreb, Director of the University Research Foundation for Lysosomal Storage Diseases , with the Foundation’s annual “See the Light” awards.
“This is a new beginning for South Florida as Scripps Florida brings established biomedical researchers to our area and recruits new young, talented scientists here,” said Dr. Orf.  “I am proud to represent the Scripps Florida community and I’m pleased to be honored by The Mathew Forbes Romer Foundation.”
Along with his role leading the establishment of the world renowned Scripps Research Institute in Florida, Dr. Orf is Chair of the BioFlorida Education Committee and on the Board of the Florida Research Consortium.
As Director of the University Research Foundation for Lysosomal Storage Diseases,  Dr. Neal Weinreb is one of the world’s leading researchers into enzyme replacement therapies to treat genetic diseases especially Gaucher Disease.
“I’m humbled to receive the See the Light award in Mathew’s name,” said Dr. Weinreb.  Though Mathew’s life was short in years, it had great significance and worth and I’m proud to carry on my research to benefit children like Mathew.”
Dr. Weinreb also directs the University Gaucher Disease-Fabry Disease Treatment Center and shares his expertise by teaching and working closely with several leading South Florida universities including The University of Miami and Nova Southeastern University.
Major sponsors of an “Evening of Sweetness and Laughter” included the Adolph and Rose Levis Foundation, Paul and Judy Levis Markhoff, Tyco Fire and Security, Promise Healthcare, Akerman Senterfitt, Baron Delivers on Demand and Miami Children’s Hospital.  Participating sponsors included Genzyme Corporation, Brenner Real Estate Group, Florida Atlantic University, Wachovia, LEK Consulting, Sheridan Healthcare, Carnival Cruise Lines and Boca Resort and Club.
Event co-chairs were Lisajane and Kevin Romer and Lisa and Allan Spiro.  Raffle chairs were Jill and Judy Morgenstein.  Committee members included Lori Baron, Walter Collins, Randi Eisenband, Sondra Geller, Lisa Math, Pablo Meles, Linda Meran, Carl Meyers, Ellen Meyers, Robin Oberman, Carole Romer, Debi Shapiro, Lois Siegel and Alyse Stoll.
In December 2005, MFRF presented The Third Annual South Florida Genetic Testing and Education Fair which provided free genetic testing to a record 95 potential parents for six fatal genetic diseases including Tay-Sachs, Canavan, Cystic Fibrosis, Familial Dysautonomia, Gaucher and Niemann-Pick.
The Foundation also funded the newly formed Genetics Residency/ Fellowship between The University of Miami and Miami Children’s Hospital and the creation of the MFRF Neurogenetics Data Registry to track clinical research patients at Miami Children’s Hospital Brain Institute.  MFRF also established and promoted the state Center for Rare and Genetic Neurological Diseases (CRGND) with Florida Atlantic University (FAU).
MFRF renewed Pediatric and Genetic Nursing Scholarships at FAU and added new scholarships at Florida International University and Nova Southeastern University.
For more information, call The Mathew Forbes Romer Foundation at (561) 477-0337.

About the Matthew Forbes Romer Foundation
The Mathew Forbes Romer Foundation, established in 1998, is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization under section 501(c) (3) of the IRS code that supports education and research of children’s genetics diseases of the brain, and is the South Florida affiliate of National Tay-Sachs and Allied Diseases Association, the oldest genetics organization in the country. The foundation, now celebrating its seventh anniversary, 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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