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Jun 13

Partners in Collaboration Recognizes Packard’s Stars

Annual awards celebrate those that go above and beyond for ALS research

Earlier this spring, close to 100 Packard supporters, staff, and volunteers, along with scientists attending the Packard Center's annual symposium, gathered at the Marriott Waterfront in downtown Baltimore. There, they honored special friends and those that made significant contributions of time, treasure, and talent to the Packard Center’s mission.

Dr. Jeff Rothstein, Packard Center founder and director, welcomes guests at the Center's annual Partners in Collaboration Awards.

This year’s Partners in Collaboration reception honored those who are outstanding in their unwavering commitment to ALS research as well as a special group of families that have continually worked to make the annual Fiesta 5K race a success. "Each of these families is a special partner in collaboration, supporting the vision and mission of the Packard Center through their hard work, leadership, ambassadorship and volunteerism,” Jeff Rothstein said in his opening remarks.  “Each has brought their gifts and talents to this partnership, and we are indebted to them for their continued support.”

Suzanne Malveaux served as  the event's Master of Ceremonies and keynote speaker.  Malveaux is an award-winning journalist with CNN who serves as the network’s national correspondent, covering politics, national news, international events, and culture.  In addition to her role as a journalist, Malveaux has become a passionate advocate for patients, an ambassador for research, and a caregiver to an ALS patient. Her mother, Myrna, has ALS, and since her mother's diagnosis, she has helped reach a broad audience by sharing her own family’s journey with ALS.

Master of Ceremonies Suzanne Malveaux shared her personal ALS story.

Nothing Slows Down Fred Carlson

Fred and Mary Jo Carlson receive their award from Dr. Jeff Rothstein (left).

Fred Carlson was a retired Army Colonel and an active runner when he was diagnosed with ALS in 2008.  Looking for a way to get involved in the ALS community, Fred’s son Brian found the Fiesta 5K while doing some research on the disease and created a team, Running for Carlson. 

An avid runner, Fred had completed 27 marathons prior to his diagnosis.  He was able to run the Fiesta 5K for two years and today he still completes the race every year, now in his wheelchair that is pushed by his sons and many of his former running partners in RASAC, his Harford County running group.  Many of his teammates run the race and run back to finish again with Fred.  His finish every year continues to inspire patients, caregivers and other runners.

In their seven years participating in the Fiesta 5K, Carlson and his team have raised over $95,000 and brought 490 runners to the event, including more top-three race finishers each year than any other team.

Carlson’s involvement and advocacy goes beyond the Fiesta 5K.  To date, he has participated in three clinical trials in ALS and he has testified before the FDA to encourage a more efficient process for getting drugs and treatments to market. For the last four years, Carlson has also served as Consumer Reviewer for ALS in the Department of Defense’s Congressional-Directed Medical Research Program.

A Family on a Mission

Tim Connelly (right) leads the Connelly Crusaders and has raised more than $83,000 for ALS research.

Until the summer of 2007, the Connelly family knew very little about ALS.  Now, 10 years later, this large, boisterous clan from Annapolis considers themselves experts in the disease.

In July of 2007, their matriarch, Anne Connelly, was diagnosed with ALS.  In a twist of fate, her son Rich, then age 47, also began experiencing ALS-like symptoms and turned to his mother’s doctor at Hopkins for help.   Just eight weeks after his mother’s diagnosis, Rich learned he too had ALS.

Tim Connelly is a man of action and knew he wanted to do something to bring his family together and to honor his mother and brother and the fight they had ahead of them.  A life-long runner, Tim found the ad for the Fiesta 5K and signed up his family in 2010.  That first year his team consisted of 10 people and together they raised $1,000.

Moved by what he experienced at that first race, Tim rallied his family to get involved and the Connelly Crusaders have never looked back.   In the last seven years, the team has raised an impressive $83,000 to help the fight against ALS.  

Anne lost her battle with the disease in 2010 and Rich in 2013. The Connelly Crusaders continue to honor them every May at the Fiesta 5K. 

The Hackett Clan brings the party to the Fiesta 5K!

Shonna Hackett brought her humor and fighting spirit to the Partners in Collaboration event.

Shonna Hackett and her tight-knit community in Severna Park have put the word “fiesta” in the Fiesta 5K.  With their green shamrock shirts and their large Irish flag banner, they are tough to miss.  Despite the fun they bring to the event, they carry a very serious story behind the smiles that brought them to the Packard Center.

Mike Hackett was diagnosed with ALS in 2010.  Unfortunately, Mike and his family were not surprised by his diagnosis as he had lost his mother and grandfather to the disease decades earlier and had been an active member of the Pre-Symptomatic Familial ALS Study at the University of Miami.

After Mike’s diagnosis, he and his wife Shonna were compelled into action launching The Hackett Clan, a group of their family and friends dedicated to raising money for ALS Research.  In addition to participating in the Fiesta 5K each year, the Hackett Clan would host a series of events throughout their Severna Park neighborhood to raise money for research.

Shonna and her son Colin and daughter Mackenzie have lead the Hackett Clan and together they regularly win the largest team category each year at the Fiesta 5K.  At their peak, one-quarter of the runners at the 2012 Fiesta 5K were wearing Hackett Clan t-shirts.  To date, the Hackett Clan has raised just over $90,000 for the Packard Center.  Each year they continue to honor Mike Hackett’s zest for life at the race.

Tiger Up for ALS Research!

Team Nelly came out in force to celebrate Andy Nelson's (center) 2017 Partners in Collaboration award.

It is difficult to do justice to the impact that Alex and Andy Nelson have had on the Packard Center and Fiesta 5K. While most families get involved, start a team, and build up slowly over a few years, Team Nelly came onto the scene full-force and never looked back.

Andy Nelson was a young executive in 2011 with a beautiful wife and infant son when he was diagnosed with ALS.  Blessed with a vast network of friends, classmates, family, and colleagues, the Nelsons opened up about Andy’s ALS diagnosis and Team Nelly was born.  Adopting the motto “Tiger Up” based on Nelson’s alma mater, Wittenberg University, Team Nelly has consistently and enthusiastically dedicated their time, talent and treasure to making the event a success.

Team Nelly is easy to spot at the Center’s annual event:  they are usually the first to arrive at the crack of dawn with their own tent and table, their own banner, donuts, and a huge army of red shirts.  They are also easily spotted at the post-race awards ceremony each year as they have consistently been honored for their stellar fundraising and participation.

In six years, Team Nelly has brought almost 800 people to the Fiesta 5K and raised over $200,000 for ALS Research.  One year, they single-handedly raised one-quarter of the race’s proceeds.

Beyond what they do for the race, Andy and Alex, when called upon by the Packard Center, have consistently and enthusiastically risen to the occasion.  Whether its raising money with their Celebrate Life event, representing the Center by throwing out the first pitch at the Orioles game, testifying before the FDA, or sharing their unique story in countless interviews and Packard Center publications, Andy and Alex Nelson are always there and are ready to help.  Nelson, a man of optimism, noted at the reception, “If the {Chicago} Cubs can win the World Series, then we can cure ALS.”

NOTE:  Andy Nelson lost his battle with ALS just as this article was being published.  The staff and researchers of the Packard Center wish to extend our deepest sympathies to his wife Alex and their son Will.  Andy Nelson was a ALS warrior and his humor, grace and fighting spirit will be missed by all.  This photo was taken in March, 2017 when Alex and Andy were the recipients of the 2017 Partners in Collaboration Award for their dedication to the Packard Center. 


Packard Center’s Power Couple!

Craig Munro (center) and hi wife Kay lead the Craig's Clan Cares Walk every fall to raise money for ALS research.

Craig Munro was a retired Washington, DC Police Officer when he was diagnosed with ALS in 2006.  Together with his wife Kay, the Munro's have dedicated themselves to raising money for ALS research. This Packard Center power couple took action and formed “Craig’s Clan Cares” to raise money for ALS research and pay tribute to Craig’s Scottish roots.

For the past eleven years, Kay and Craig invite family, friends, and Kay’s former students to Robinson Secondary School in Fairfax, Virginia to walk around the track in Craig’s honor and raise money for ALS research.  Many times the walk is combined with a Pi Kappa Alpha reunion from Craig’s fraternity at Parsons College.

Since moving their event to the Packard Center in 2013, the Craig’s Clan Cares Walk has raised $115,000 for the Center and continues to grow each year.

Late Golf Great’s Legacy Lives on To Fund ALS Research

Professional golfer Jeff Julian lost his battle with ALS in 2004.

The Julian Foundation has benefitted the ALS community of southwestern Missouri since early 2004, and has been a strong supporter of the Packard Center since 2011, raising over $100,000 for ALS research. The longevity of the foundation is a testament to their commitment to ending ALS.

Jeff Julian, a professional golfer, was in the prime of his life when he competed at the 2002 Greater Hartford Open on the PGA Tour.  It would be Jeff’s last event.  By February 2003, ALS took full control of Jeff’s body. Never a quitter, always a fighter, he fought the disease with courage and humor.  Jeff passed away in 2004 at the age of 42.  Before his passing, Jeff and his wife Kim formed the Jeff Julian ALS Foundation to raise awareness, aid in patient care and raise money for research.