Over 200 people gathered at prestigious Manchester Lowry Hotel for the third annual Platinum Ball, led by Jonathan and Patricia Dee and Team David. This event, together with other Team David fundraising activities, has now raised an amazing £256,000 for The SMA Trust since it started in 2012.
The event included a live auction with money can’t buy prizes such as behind the scenes BBC tours, dinner with super business woman Nicola Horlick as well as holidays and a trip to three car manufacturer sites including Aston Martin. In addition to the live auction, there was a silent auction of some incredible prizes such as a signed Victoria Pendleton bike, an Antony Gormley print and an original framed Matt cartoon.
The evening wasn’t just about fundraising, it was about awareness raising too. Joanna Mitchell (Chief Executive) and Kevin Talbot (Chair of Motor Neuron Biology at Oxford, and SMA Trust trustee), both spoke about the progress being made in SMA research. Leading disability campaigner Baroness Campbell addressed the room with an inspirational speech about equality in society for those affected by SMA. She was followed by three young people who spoke powerfully about their perspective on life with SMA. The compere for the evening was BBC Breakfast presenter Bill Turnbull, a long time supporter of this event. Patricia Dee spoke movingly about being Mum to David, who has SMA.
The spectacular event was sponsored by a range of businesses – Active Win, Swizzels-Matlow, Journey9 and Beaverbrooks, attendees were entertained by the Show band Aura, Sing Out Gospel Choir and a DJ and dancing rounded off the evening.
The money raised from the event will go towards the following three projects:
1. Professor Thomas Gillingwater, Edinburgh University: “Developing novel small molecule-based therapies for SMA” . This is an ongoing project which has so far shown that the compound quercetin has a beneficial effect on a molecular pathway disrupted in SMA. This year, the team will be investigating similar compounds to see if this effect can be further improved. Please click on the link above to find out more.
2. Dr. Martine Barkats, France: “AAV9-SMN gene therapy for SMA”. Using a harmless virus, Dr. Martine Barkats has succeeded in delivering an SMN gene across the blood brain barrier, dramatically increasing the lifespan of mice. Further work is needed to improve the therapeutic effect of this promising gene therapy approach for SMA. Please click on the link for further information.
3. Professor Matthew Wood, Oxford University: “Central Nervous System delivery peptides conjugated to oligonucleotides for splice switching therapy of SMA”. This project will seek to deliver molecular “patches” using short protein fragments called peptides, to help the SMN2 gene express more functional SMN protein without the need for invasive spinal cord injections. For more information, please click on the link.
The target for the Ball is £97,342 and more donations are expected.