NEW YORK, Feb. 26, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- For the fourth consecutive year Broadway's best vocal talent appeared Monday night to raise funds for the rare disease, pulmonary fibrosis (PF), and honor the memory of Associated Press theater critic, Michael Kuchwara. Hosted by award-winning actress and devoted Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF) advocate Julie Halston, Broadway Belts for PFF! returned to Birdland in New York City starring a full marquee of Tony and Emmy award winning performers and recording artists. This year the event raised almost $110,000 to benefit the PFF.
Broadway stars showcased their talent with an evening of music and stories under the direction of Christopher McGovern and returning director Carl Andress, who has directed all four of the Broadway Belts for PFF! performances. The all-star cast included: Lindsay Mendez (Wicked), Lucas Steele (Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812), Tony Yazbeck (Little Me), Liz Callaway (celebrated recording artist), Robert Creighton (Little Me), Christina Bianco (Forbidden Broadway), Cady Huffman (The Producers) and Rashidra Scott (Beautiful). Ms. Halston hosted the program for the fourth time with her usual wit and great story telling. She's now co-starring with Charles Busch in "The Tribute Artist."
One highlight of the evening was television and stage icon Tony Danza singing "Out of the Sun," composed by Jason Robert Brown for the Broadway-bound new musical, "Honeymoon in Vegas." Based on the hit film, the musical is scheduled to open this fall starring Mr. Danza.
"We are so thankful to our good friends Julie Halston, D. Michael Dvorchak, Ed Windells, and Sue Frost for their hard work," said Patti Tuomey, President and Chief Operating Officer of the Foundation. "They produce such an amazing show by bringing this talent together; it has contributed almost $275,000 to our PF community. Everyone there agreed it was a very special night."
Broadway's Julie Halston became a leading spokesperson for the PFF after her husband, broadcaster Ralph Howard, received a lung transplant due to idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. She hopes that the awareness created by Broadway Belts for PFF! will assist others affected by the disease. "I want to make sure that everyone knows about the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, so that no one with pulmonary fibrosis has to go through this alone," said Halston. "First my husband was diagnosed and then we lost our friend Michael Kuchwara. We first started this benefit four years ago to remember Michael and raise money to someday cure this terrible disease. I am so thankful to my dear friends who give their time and talent year after year. Their dedication helps us raise awareness to fund research and bring us closer to a cure. We're already looking forward to next year's event on February 23, 2015!"
Speaking during the program was Kevin Brown, MD, member of the PFF Board of Directors and Chairman of the PFF Medical Advisory Board. In addition to telling the audience a little more about PF, he spoke of how it can impact anyone, regardless of their age, sex or other demographics. In the US, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis affects between 132,000-200,000 people.
The PFF's Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Directors, Daniel M. Rose, MD commented on the importance of how this event unites the PF community. "Broadway stars join patients, caregivers, transplant recipients, physicians, financial supporters and the pharmaceutical companies to raise funds to find a cure. This PF community interaction helps provide a clear picture of the task ahead to support researchers, doctors and patients.
The Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation would like to thank the 2014 Broadway Belts for PFF! Presenting Sponsors: the Doug and Gay Lane Charitable Foundation and The Steffy Family Foundation Fund; the Director's Circle Sponsors: Daryl and Steven Roth Foundation, Boehringer Ingelheim, and InterMune, Inc.; the Broadway Partner Sponsors: Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, Canaccord Genuity, Patricia Lahrmer Ross and Robert H. Ross, Richard and Davida Rothberg, Art Ross and Abbe Sher; our Ensemble Member Sponsors: Gentile Entertainment Group, Steve and Joan Wald, the Nederlander Organization and the Winfield Foundation. In addition, the Foundation would like to thank our Chorus Line Sponsors: We Solutions: Mr. and Mrs. Kyle and Maryam Taylor in Memory of Mohammadali Mottaghian, MD; Michelle Harmon-Madsen and Ken Madsen; and Wendy and Neil Scheer.
All funds raised at the event will go toward the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation's Michael Kuchwara Fund for Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Research, Education, and Advocacy in honor of the late Associated Press theater critic and reporter; Mr. Kuchwara passed away from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis in May of 2010.
For more information on the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, or to make a donation, please visit www.pulmonaryfibrosis.org.
About the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation
The mission of the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF) is to help find a cure for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), advocate for the pulmonary fibrosis community, promote disease awareness, and provide a compassionate environment for patients and their families. The PFF collaborates with physicians, organizations, patients, and caregivers worldwide. PFF Summit 2015: From Bench to Beside, the PFF's third biennial international scientific conference, will be held November 12-14, 2015. For more information visit www.pulmonaryfibrosis.org or call 888.733.6741 or +1 312.587.9272 from outside of the US.
About Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a condition in which over a period of time the lung tissue becomes thickened, stiff, and scarred. The development of the scar tissue is called fibrosis. As the lung tissue becomes scarred and thicker, the lungs lose their ability to transfer oxygen into the bloodstream. As a result, the brain and other organs don't receive the oxygen they need. In some cases, doctors can determine the cause of the fibrosis, but in most cases, there is not a known cause. When there is no known etiology for the fibrosis (and certain pathologic or radiographic criteria are met), the disease is called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis or IPF. IPF affects between 132,000-200,000 people in the United States (US), and between 37,000-40,000 people in the European Union (EU). The annual mortality is estimated to be 40,000 in the US, with an average survival of 2–3 years following diagnosis. There is no cure for IPF. There is presently no FDA-approved treatment for IPF in the US and limited therapeutic options available for individuals with mild-to-moderate IPF in the EU, Canada, and Asia.
Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation Website
President and Chief Operating Officer
SOURCE The Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation