Broadway's Best Gather to Raise Funds and Awareness for the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation

Feb 26, 2013, 14:20 ET from The Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation

Julie Halston, Debbie Gravitte, Max von Essen, Emily Bergyl, Robert Creighton, Klea Blackhurst, Emma Hunton, and Edward Watts

Join Legendary Belter Linda Lavin for the Third Annual Broadway Belts for PFF!

NEW YORK, Feb. 26, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With honors ranging from the Golden Globes to the Tony Awards, Broadway's best performers gathered Monday night to raise awareness of 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 for a third successful year.  The event raised almost $70,000 to benefit the Foundation.

Broadway stars showcased their belting abilities under the musical direction of Jesse Kissel and returning director Carl Andress.  The all-star cast included: Tony winners Linda Lavin (Broadway Bound) and Debbie Gravitte (Jerome Robbins Broadway), Emily Bergyl (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof), Klea Blackhurst (York Theatre's Happy Hunting), Max von Essen (Evita), Robert Creighton (The Mystery of Edwin Drood), Emma Hunton (Spring Awakening), and Edward Watts (Encores! It's A Bird… It's A Plane…It's Superman). 

The evening's highlights included Lavin and Gravitte's original performances of their showstopping Broadway numbers – "You've Got Possibilities" from It's A Bird…It's A Plane…It's Superman and "Mr. Monotony" from Jerome Robbins Broadway; and the premiere of a new song from the Broadway-bound musical Chasing The Song called "Come Back When You're a Man," sung by Gravitte and Emma Hunton.

"Broadway Belts for PFF! has raised almost $160,000 to fund research and generated significant awareness for a rare disease," said the PFF's President and Chief Operating Officer, Patti Tuomey. "We are so thankful to Julie Halston, D. Michael Dvorchak, Ed Windels, and Sue Frost for their efforts in producing such an amazing evening and for contributing so much to the PF community." 

Broadway's Julie Halston became the leading spokesperson for the PFF after her husband, broadcaster Ralph Howard, received a lung transplant due to pulmonary fibrosis.  Ms. Halston hopes that the awareness created by Broadway Belts for PFF! will assist others affected by the disease.

"I want to make sure 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 with pulmonary fibrosis then we lost our friend Michael Kuchwara to the disease. I am thankful to my dear friends who give their time and talent year after year to help raise awareness and fund the research that will bring us closer to finding a cure."

The PFF's Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Directors, Daniel M. Rose, MD, emphasized the importance of bringing together the PF community that now includes the stars of Broadway, "This event brought together patients, caregivers, transplant recipients, physicians, financial supporters, and major pharmaceutical companies to bring awareness and raise funds for a rare disease with no FDA-approved treatment and no cure," said Dr. Rose.  "It is important to our mission that we foster this type of PF community interaction to get a clear picture of what needs to be done to support researchers, doctors, and patients."

The Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation would like to thank this year's Broadway Belts for PFF! Director's Circle Sponsors, the Doug and Gay Lane Charitable Foundation and InterMune, Inc.; Broadway Partner Sponsors, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and the Daryl and Steven Roth Foundation; and Ensemble Member Sponsors, Boehringer Ingelheim, Canaccord Genuity, and the Nederlander Organization.  The Foundation would also like to thank the following Chorus Line Sponsors: Dohmen; Mike and Donna Henderson; Nora and Richard Johnson; Michelle Harmon-Madsen and Ken Madsen; Chase Hutt and Patti Schoffer; Major Robert C. Dopher, USMC, Retired, Memorial Fund; PF Patients from the Pacific Northwest; Robert and Patricia Ross; Richard and Davida Rothberg; Wendy and Neil Scheer; Thomas Schumacher; and Dave Steffy.

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

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. December 1-3, 2011 the PFF hosted its first biennial international scientific conference, IPF Summit 2011: From Bench to Bedside, in Chicago; PFF Summit 2013 will be held December 5–7, 2013, in La Jolla, California. For more information visit or call 888.733.6741.

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 approximately 200,000 individuals in the United States (US), and 138,000 individuals in the European Union (EU). The annual mortality is estimated to be 40,000 in the US alone, with an average survival of 2–3 years following diagnosis.  There is no cure for IPF. There is 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.

Charlie Siedenburg 

Cara Schillinger
Associate Vice President, Communications and Marketing

SOURCE The Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation