In the MJFF Winter 2011 newsletter, Foundation supporters Cliff and Sharron Tune share their story — and what inspired them to increase their impact of their gift through the Brin Wojcicki Challenge.
After his Parkinson’s diagnosis nearly 15 years ago, Cliff Tune, of San Francisco, California, began to pursue a hobby that he and his wife, Sharron, had always shared: travel. What he didn’t anticipate is that he would develop a new passion — for singing. Nor did he expect that these two interests would marry so well.
Cliff had always thought of himself as a shy person. But within a few years of his diagnosis, he started taking voice lessons, using a karaoke machine. Soon he was performing at a local venue during karaoke night, singing his favorite songs — from Neil Diamond to Kenny Rogers. During the cruises that he and Sharron took, he often competed in pop star contests aboard the ship. Known as “Karaoke Kliff,” he said, “There’s absolutely nothing like being onstage.”
Along with their travel and Cliff’s performing, the Tunes have dedicated their energy and resources to The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF). They look to MJFF as a source of inspiration and hope — knowing that someone is waking up every day to do whatever it takes to develop improved treatments and a cure for Parkinson’s. Throughout the years, the couple has done whatever they could, by financially supporting the Foundation’s mission.
When they learned of the Brin Wojcicki Challenge in June, they quickly wrote a check to fully leverage the opportunity to earn doubled dollars for the Foundation’s research programs. That meant stretching their previous $100 contribution in 2010 to $500 in 2011, which, with the match, made their gift worth $900 to the Foundation’s efforts to speed a cure. Cliff said, “For the millions of patients out there, we can’t afford to sit on the sidelines and wait for a cure to come to us. That’s why it’s so important to meet the Challenge now — and we can all do something to contribute.”
Cliff has had to take a break from performing, as he’s experiencing freezing of gait. But he’s staying active by walking a mile each day, and continues to sing at home — with the goal of returning to the stage soon.