Musical Tribute Honoring the Life of Theater Critic Michael Kuchwara, Benefiting the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, Hit High Notes With Liza Minnelli and Broadway Stars

Mar 03, 2011, 13:27 ET from The Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation

2011 Special Events Significantly Impact Awareness and Raise Funds for Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation

CHICAGO, March 3, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Friends and colleagues of Associated Press theater critic Michael Kuchwara honored his memory with a musical tribute of his favorite Broadway songs Monday (2/28) night at Birdland in New York City. Kuchwara passed away from complications of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) in May of last year. Actress Julie Halston (whose husband had a lung transplant for IPF) hosted the event with her impeccable wit and comedic prowess and the show ended with a surprise guest appearance by Liza Minnelli. The event raised $30,000 benefiting the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF) and will help spread much needed awareness of the little known disease.

"The stars of Broadway came together to honor Michael Kuchwara's life and graciously raised money in his memory for the Foundation. I thank everyone who contributed to this remarkable event for their time and generosity," said Daniel M. Rose, MD, President of the PFF. "The impact of events like these in elevating the awareness of pulmonary fibrosis is immeasurable and of vital importance to successfully fighting this devastating disease."

Among the Broadway stars that graced the stage were Nancy Anderson, Klea Blackhurst, Kevin Chamberlin, Alison Fraser, Montego Glover, Hunter Ryan Herdlicka, Marc Kudisch, Michael McCormick, Lindsay Mendez, Noah Racey, Sherie Rene Scott, Mary Testa, and Betsy Wolfe. The evening ended with Liza Minnelli, accompanied by Billy Stritch, who charmed the audience with anecdotes of Kuchwara and sang three songs to much delight.

This was the second of approximately 60 events that will be organized throughout 2011 to fundraise and educate for pulmonary fibrosis and followed a highly successful Third Annual Bench Press for PF event that raised over $25,000 by the men's lacrosse team at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. Said Patti Tuomey, Chief Operating Officer, about the event: "The support of this incredible team has allowed us to kick off 2011 with an extremely successful event; we greatly admire their continued dedication to the cause and appreciate the awareness they bring to a younger audience."

Upcoming events include the Fifth Annual A Night of Music in Memory of Darlene Kramer, Sunday, March 6th at local Chicago venue FitzGerald's and featuring a performance by PFF's Matt Derda and Krysten Knievel; Friends Versus Fibrosis, a basketball themed fundraiser on March 12 in Westlake, Ohio; and Comedy for a Cause on March 26, in Farmington, Michigan, one of three events to be hosted in 2011 by the Willacker family. Other events throughout the year will include walks, runs, wine tastings, and golf tournaments, and will culminate in the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation Tenth Anniversary Celebration Dinner on December 2 at The Field Museum.

Visit for a current listing of events and to register. If you are interested in hosting an event, contact the Foundation at or 888-733-6741. The Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation is pleased to announce its inaugural health care conference IPF Summit 2011: From Bench to Bedside, please visit the or call 888-733-6741 for more information.

About the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation

The Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to fund research 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 caregivers. The PFF collaborates with physicians, organizations, patients, and caregivers worldwide. The PFF's international health care conference IPF Summit 2011: From Bench to Bedside, reintroduction of the Pulmonary Fibrosis Research Enhancement Act to Congress, awarding Young Investigator grants, and formation of affiliate groups are some of the 2011 initiatives planned to further their mission. For more information visit or call 888-733-6741.

About Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis

According to the National Institutes for Health, 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 criteria are met) the disease is called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis or IPF. IPF affects approximately 200,000 individuals in the US, and the annual mortality is estimated to be 40,000. At present there are no FDA approved medical therapies.


Matt Derda

Director of Marketing


SOURCE The Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation