For the past 40 years, the family of founding MJFF Board member Fred Weiss has been asking him to write down his children’s stories. In 2013, he finally did, publishing Mag-nan-i-mous Monkey and Gerald Giraffe. Even better: he is donating all proceeds from the book’s sales to The Michael J. Fox Foundation.
Since he’s been telling tales of “Mag-nan-i-mous Monkey” for so long—first to his own children and now to their children—Fred says writing the book wasn’t very difficult. It focuses on a central theme: that free advice can get you into trouble. Fred has yet to determine if a sequel will be in the works, joking, “I have to see if anyone actually buys it.”
A member of MJFF’s Board since 2000, and an advocate for the Parkinson’s community even longer, Fred first met Michael J. Fox while serving on the Board of the Parkinson’s Action Network (PAN). At the time, Fred’s younger brother, Marvin, was living with young-onset Parkinson’s. When Michael decided to launch a foundation devoted to PD research, Fred agreed to join the new Board.
Today, he serves as Chair of the Board’s Finance Committee, channeling his expertise in the financial community and continuing to honor his brother, who passed away in 2005. In his memory, Fred recently dedicated the Marvin J. Weiss Conference Room at the MJFF office.
The Foundation, he says, has evolved immensely over the years. However, he is struck by MJFF’s “focus with a clear objective—not just growing for the sake of it,” he says. “The quality of people the Foundation attracts to its staff is truly extraordinary.” As for he and his fellow Board members, they share a feeling of “restless discontent—we’re always looking for another, better way to do things.”
While Fred acknowledges his disappointment that there haven’t been bigger breakthroughs in the field, he remains optimistic. “We’re playing a much greater role in the direction of Parkinson’s research than we’d ever thought possible. I’m impatient to see more significant results but am confident we’ll see them soon.”
Mag-nan-i-mous Monkey and Gerald Giraffe is available on Amazon.com and bn.com. All proceeds will be donated to The Michael J. Fox Foundation to help speed a cure for Parkinson’s.