MIAMI, Feb. 1, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Parkinson's Foundation today announced that Stephen Bittel, chairman and founder of Terranova, has made a $450,000 donation to support the expansion of the foundation's Centers of Excellence network. Additionally, Bittel, who manages Terranova's commercial real estate portfolio valued over $1 billion, pledged to raise an additional $1 million to fund ongoing fellowship grants.
Parkinson's, which currently affects an estimated one million Americans and 10 million people worldwide, is the second-most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer's and the 14th-leading cause of death in the United States.
"We are extremely grateful for Stephen's generous donation and his ongoing support of our mission," said John L. Lehr, CEO of the Parkinson's Foundation. "His contributions will have a significant impact on our community, as we continue to lead the charge in making life better for people with Parkinson's and working toward a cure."
Bittel's donation will support the Parkinson's Foundation's Centers of Excellence network, which is comprised of 42 medical centers in the U.S. and worldwide and allows the foundation to set the standard of care for Parkinson's and lead the development of new treatments and care models. Led by renowned clinicians in Parkinson's care, the centers deliver care to more than 100,000 individuals with Parkinson's every year. Parkinson's Foundation Center of Excellence status is the most respected and sought-after designation in the field of Movement Disorders, with each center required to meet rigorous clinical, research, professional education, and patient service criteria.
Bittel also pledged to leverage his personal and professional networks to raise $1 million to support the Parkinson's Foundation's fellowship grants. The grants are awarded annually to encourage young scientists, clinicians and students to devote their talents to the study of Parkinson's disease.
Said Bittel: "As part of my ongoing commitment to giving back and supporting our community, I am grateful for the opportunity to support the Parkinson's Foundation, an organization that is truly making an impact and working hard to advance a greater good."
Bittel first became involved with the organization after seeing the impact of the disease on his Executive Vice President Mindy McIlroy, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2014. The news made her determined to tackle her Parkinson's condition head-on and summon all her resources at a personal and community level to pursue a cure. While continuing her responsibilities at Terranova, Mindy joined the Board of Directors of the Parkinson's Foundation and became chair of Moving Day Miami, a walk for Parkinson's, in 2014 and remained a co-chair in 2015. This year, Mindy also became co-chair of the Parkinson's Foundation's Development Committee. In 2014, Team Terranova at Moving Day Miami was the first in the organization's history to raise more than $100,000, thanks to Bittel's offer to personally match every dollar raised.
Over the years, Terranova's involvement with the foundation has included serving as presenting sponsor of Moving (2014 – 2016) and earning the distinction of Moving Day Miami's Top Corporate Team (2014 – 2017).
About the Parkinson's Foundation The Parkinson's Foundation makes life better for people with Parkinson's disease by improving care and advancing research toward a cure. In everything we do, we build on the energy, experience and passion of our global Parkinson's community. For more information, visit www.parkinson.org or call (800) 4PD-INFO (473-4636).
About Parkinson's Disease Affecting an estimated one million Americans and 10 million worldwide, Parkinson's disease is the second-most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer's and is the 14th-leading cause of death in the United States. It is associated with a progressive loss of motor control (e.g., shaking or tremor at rest and lack of facial expression), as well as non-motor symptoms (e.g., depression and anxiety). There is no cure for Parkinson's and 60,000 new cases are diagnosed each year in the United States alone.