Monday, June 11, 2012

Bonnie's Never-Ending Vision and Passion

Bonnie Strauss (President and Founder of The Bachmann-Strauss Foundation), Burtt Ehrlich, Fran Ehrlich, George Fugelsang (Board of Director of The Bachmann-Strauss Foundation), Susie Fugelsang, Howard Stein, and Lori Ferrell at The 19th Annual Bachmann-Strauss Dystonia & Parkinson Golf Invitational.
Bonnie's Never-Ending Vision and Passion
by Marcia P. Neeley

With a note of nostalgia in her voice, Bonnie Strauss speaks passionately about celebrating the 20th year in her never-ending search for better treatments for dystonia and Parkinson's disease, while raising awareness for these two disorders. Founder and President of The Bachmann-Strauss Dystonia & Parkinson Foundation, Bonnie explains, "You might have an amazing vision, but pursuing a goal requires intense focus and work, or the vision is lost."

Grateful to generous funders who have helped her accomplish her vision, Bonnie continued, "With the support of friends and dedicated members of the community, the Foundation has given $12 million and funded 217 grants, enabling researchers to explore their most promising hypotheses over the past 20 years."
Anne Hathaway, Julia Bressman, Dr. Susan Bressman, and Bonnie Strauss at an evening hosted by Ms. Hathaway with The Bachmann-Strauss Dystonia & Parkinson Foundation.
In recent years, a handful of promising drug treatments have been discovered which combined with therapy, help dystonia and Parkinson's patients cope. The Foundation has also funded basic research that resulted in the discovery of the first dystonia gene, DYT1, and the first genetically altered ("transgenic") mouse model of dystonia. Most recently, the Foundation supported research in neuroimaging, which has changed the way we look at dystonia. The Bachmann-Strauss Foundation is also the leading organization actively exploring the connection between dystonia and Parkinson’s disease.

Bonnie is especially proud of these accomplishments, and most importantly, has recognized the challenges of fragmented clinical care. She said, "To address the complex problems facing patients, we established the first Dystonia Center of Excellence at Beth Israel Medical Center in 2009. Hopefully, this is just the beginning of many such Centers.
The 3rd Annual Jake's Ride in Short Hills, NJ where over 1,000 individuals came out to show their support within the community and raised over $205,000.
"From personal experience, living with dystonia, I can tell you that waiting for doctors, test results, and appointments, is often confusing and exhausting. The Center reduces the stress on patients and their families with a focused, centralized approach to treatment. Critically, the clinic brings together specialists from multiple disciplines to provide “one-stop-shopping” for comprehensive patient care."

Today, The Bachmann-Strauss Dystonia Center of Excellence at Beth Israel Hospital is self-sustaining and thriving. It serves approximately 4,500 patients and their families annually, a remarkable success by any measure. Bonnie strongly believes that now, it's time to expand, to spread the Foundation's wings, by supporting a second Center of Excellence and going on to creating more.
Members of the Bachmann-Strauss Foundation marathon team.
With this objective in mind, New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg will be the special guest speaker at The Bachmann-Strauss Dystonia & Parkinson Foundation’s 20th Annual Dystonia & Parkinson Golf Invitational, slated for Monday, June 18, 2012, at Century Golf Club in Purchase, NY. 

Paula Zahn, award-winning journalist and newscaster, will be mistress of ceremonies. The event attracts a group of influential people, such as local socialites and CEOs of financial corporations, including Thomas W. Strauss, who is currently CEO and President of Ramius, a Cowen Group company; Mark Standish, President and Co-CEO of RBC Capital Markets Corp; and others.

This anniversary celebration will usher in a special campaign called "20/20: A Clear Path to the Future," which will help to fund additional Centers of Excellence, this time for Parkinson’s disease as well as dystonia. The full-day event, beginning at 11 a.m., includes lunch, a Pro-Am golf tournament, cocktails, and will conclude with a live auction and dinner.

Auctioneer Jamie Niven of Sotheby’s will conduct an exceptional live auction, featuring such items as a dinner and wine-tasting event at the home of Bonnie and Thomas Strauss, a well-known wine connoisseur; two exclusive golf packages; a private tour and lunch paired with fine wines at the Napa Valley Reserve coupled with a two night stay at the world renowned Meadowood Resort for two couples; a walk-on role in Anything Goes, and more.

Raising more than $1.3 million annually at this event alone to help fund medical research in the fields of dystonia and Parkinson’s disease, this event is the Foundation’s premier fundraiser.
Ethan London, June Hersh, Dan London, Allison London, Jennifer Hersh, Ron Hersh (Board of Director of The Bachmann-Strauss Foundation), DeMarco Morgan, and Matt London at The 19th Annual Bachmann-Strauss Dystonia & Parkinson Golf Invitational.
Bonnie Strauss, with Laurie Ozelius, PhD, and Susan Bressman, MD at The 19th Annual Bachmann-Strauss Dystonia & Parkinson Golf Invitational.
Ron Hersh, June Hersh, Allison London, Congresswoman Nita Lowey, and Dan London at The 19th Annual Bachmann-Strauss Dystonia & Parkinson Golf Invitational.
Ned Offit, Bonnie Strauss, and Daniel Offit at The 19th Annual Bachmann-Strauss Dystonia & Parkinson Golf Invitational.
NBC’s DeMarco Morgan with Bonnie and Tom Strauss The 18th Annual Dystonia & Parkinson Golf Invitational
Mark Standish, Ed McBride, and Stuart Davies at The 18th Annual Dystonia & Parkinson Golf Invitational.
Fran Ehrlich, Fran Klingenstein, David Freedberg, Karen Freedberg, and Board Member Felice Axelrod at The 18th Annual Dystonia & Parkinson Golf Invitational.
In the coming years, Bonnie plans to redouble her efforts to enable the Foundation to continue its funding of cutting-edge scientific research and to create additional Centers of Excellence for dystonia and Parkinson's patients. Explaining her rationale, Bonnie said, "I've developed a very forthright approach to life and as an optimist, I believe we can help people with better science and better medicine. This is my dream and my passion."

For further information, visit the Foundation’s web site at For information about the 20th Annual Dystonia & Parkinson Golf Invitational, please contact Christina Pepi, at 212-682-9900.