$470,000 raised for Myotonic Dystrophy Foundation: Waimea resident helps organize two-day fundraiser

  • Myotonic Dystrophy Foundation CEO Molly White, gala committee member Muffet Callender and gala event organizer Alison Woods gather at the gala at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel Nov. 10. Several of Woods’ family members have been affected by the disease. (COURTESY PHOTO/MDF)

KOHALA COAST — Supporters from Hawaii and the mainland came together Nov. 9 and 10 to attend E ha ‘awi i ka mana’ olana (to give hope), a weekend of events and activities on the Kohala Coast to benefit the Myotonic Dystrophy Foundation (MDF).

MDF is a national foundation based in San Francisco dedicated to research, developing therapies and finding a cure for myotonic dystrophy (DM). MDF raised $470,000 that weekend.

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DM is a genetic disease and form of muscular dystrophy for which there is currently no cure. It is often under- and misdiagnosed, yet it is the most common form of muscular dystrophy. MDF works to support families living with the disease, to drive research and treatment and to create awareness of DM in communities across the nation and beyond.

Alison Woods of Waimea, whose family has been impacted by the disease, teamed with MDF and her gala committee to organize the weekend. A beach barbecue at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel Friday night kicked off the weekend and included a special performance by MDF community member and performing artist Eric Hutchinson.

On Saturday, more than 50 participants enjoyed a Family Fun Bike Ride from Hapuna to Hawi. Riders were treated to lunch and live music by local talent Rob Decker at the end of the ride at the Kohala Village HUB.

The weekend peaked Saturday evening with Gala Under the Stars on the luau grounds at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel. More than 250 people attended, including MDF CEO Molly White, MDF co-founders Erica and Jeremy Kelly and several members of the mainland DM community.

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Woods and MDF were supported not only by attendees but also volunteers, generous donors and sponsors including Ahualoa Farms; Ainahua Floral; Big Island Bike Tours; Big Island Candies; Kathy Cazimero; Hoku Damaso, Tihati Productions; Rob Decker; Ann Ferguson Photography; Pat and Howard Hall; Whitney Harvey; Chef Noah Hester; Derek Higa, Show Systems Hawaii; Ionis Pharmaceuticals; Kohala Village Hub; Ashley Kojima, Swept Away Events; Mauna Kea Beach Hotel; Megan MacArthur and Alethea Lai, MacArthur Sotheby’s International Realty; Michael Mondavi Family Estate; Emily Roberts, Equine Edge; Amicheli Salyer, AJS Design; and Dr. Monica Scheel.

Next year’s MDF Gala will be held in Los Angeles.

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