An update on the Brin Wojcicki Challenge from Sheila Kelly, MJFFís vice president of development, on what itís making possible, its progress, and how you can help.
How did the Challenge come about?
Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, and his wife, Anne Wojcicki, co-founder of personal genetics company 23andMe, are longtime Foundation friends and our largest donors for six years running. They believe in our high-risk, high-reward approach to identify the most promising therapies and chaperone them along the pipeline toward clinical testing and patients. To get more people involved to help speed a cure for PD, they challenged us to raise $50 million from donors like you by December 31, 2012, which they will match dollar for dollar.
What is the Challenge enabling the Foundation to do?
Weíre using Challenge dollars to move several of the most promising treatments forward at the same time, and to fund research that would otherwise go unfunded. These capacity-building funds also enable us to tackle the significant clinical testing roadblocks therapies face that can slow their progress in getting to patients.
What have you found most inspiring about the Challenge?
I have been amazed by the sheer number of people who have stepped up for the Challenge, and the creative ways in which theyíre helping us to raise these funds. Weíve seen a big surge in new donors making an impact through gifts of all sizes. Also, some of our longstanding donors have really dug deep to increase their support and take advantage of the match.
Do smaller gifts count toward the Challenge?
A gift of any amount can count toward the Challenge! And these contributions really add up. In 2011 alone, 17,232 new donors gave $100 or less to the Foundation. Combined, these gifts totaled over $1 million ó which was doubled to more than $2 million. Every dollar gets us that much closer to a cure for Parkinsonís.
How close are you to meeting the $50-million goal?
Thanks to the generosity of our friends and supporters around the globe, weíve seen a remarkable response to the Challenge. But we still need your help to earn the final few million.
Why does the Challenge come at such an important time?
Today we see before us the most robust therapeutic pipeline for Parkinsonís disease in decades, if not ever. No fewer than a dozen recently discovered drug targets are now in human clinical testing for Parkinsonís. They represent possible breakthroughs in our ability to address previously untreated symptoms, such as mood disorders and cognitive dysfunction, as well as drug side effects such as dyskinesia (uncontrollable movements). Even more importantly, some of these targets hold potential to meet patientsí most critical need: a treatment that could slow or stop disease progression. At a moment like this, we simply canít afford to leave any Challenge dollars on the table.
Itís not too late to join the Challenge! Learn more and make your gift today at michaeljfox.org/donate.