Muscular Dystrophy Association

MDA Honors 12 Americans for National Family Caregivers Month

Press Release   •   Nov 01, 2011 05:16 EDT

TUCSON, Ariz., Nov. 1, 2011 -- November is for Thanksgiving and for honoring more than 65 million family caregivers who are assisting loved ones with disabilities in the United States.  The Muscular Dystrophy Association is recognizing all caregivers by saluting 12 extraordinary people during National Family Caregivers Month.

The dozen individuals being profiled on the special MDA Salutes Caregivers page of the website throughout November provide vital services to individuals with progressive muscle diseases. 

The notable group of caregivers includes grandparents, parents, spouses, siblings, children and friends in both large and small communities:

Paula Vanderhoff, Louisville, Ky.

Leisha Roberts, South Jordan, Utah

Carol Ross, Albuquerque, N.M.

Kelly Ragan, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Bob Poole, Parma, Ohio

Rainy Christopherson, Peshtigo, Wis.

Lisa Cozza, Marysville, Mich.

Wendy Utman, Greenacres, Fla.

Jane Pease, Gray, Maine

Linda VanVilet, Hellertown, Pa.

Donna Sutton, Swoyersville, Pa.

Kay Bracero, New York, N.Y.

In addition to being companions, family caregivers are cooks, nurses, chauffeurs and more.  In some cases, neuromuscular diseases affect mobility and communication, so family caregivers may act as their loved ones' arms, legs and voices.

Nancy O'Dell, "Entertainment Tonight" co-anchor and MDA ALS National Ambassador, understands what it takes to care for a loved one who is very ill.  

"If you're someone like me, who had a family member that was affected with a serious disease, you probably have some idea of the tremendous importance of caregivers," O'Dell says in her video welcoming visitors to the MDA Salutes Caregivers website page.  

The online destination also features videos of families having appeared on the MDA Labor Day Telethon, as they tell their stories of life with a neuromuscular disease.  

"Through my involvement with MDA," adds O'Dell, "I've learned more and more about the hard work, skill and dedication that's shown on a daily basis by those who care for others."

The multifaceted MDA Salutes Caregivers page allows individuals to post thank you messages to caregivers, and also provides helpful resources such as "Holiday Stress Busters for Caregivers" and "A Dozen Ways to Ask for Help."  

"MDA provides outstanding clinical care, funds ground-breaking neuromuscular research worldwide, facilitates hundreds of support groups, and loans equipment for families living with progressive muscle diseases," notes Gerald C. Weinberg, MDA President & CEO. "But there's no substitute for loving caregivers who provide vital support – often around the clock – 365 days out of the year."

About MDA

MDA is the nonprofit health agency dedicated to curing muscular dystrophy, ALS and related diseases by funding worldwide research.  The Association also provides comprehensive healthcare and support services, advocacy and education.  See the award-winning MDA "Make A Muscle, Make A Difference" PSA.  

In addition to funding more than 300 research teams worldwide, MDA maintains a national network of some 200 hospital-affiliated clinics; orchestrates hundreds of support groups for families affected by neuromuscular diseases; and facilitates extraordinary local summer camp opportunities for thousands of youngsters fighting progressive muscle diseases.  Known globally for the MDA Labor Day Telethon, the Association is the first nonprofit to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Medical Association "for significant and lasting contributions to the health and welfare of humanity."

MDA benefits greatly from the year-round fundraising involvement of thousands of local, multi-regional and national sponsors.  MDA's current roster of national sponsors includes: Acosta Sales & Marketing Co., Bally Total Fitness, CITGO Petroleum Corporation, ClubCorp, Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, ERA Franchise Systems, Inc., Harley-Davidson Motor Co., International Association of Fire Fighters, Jiffy Lube International, Lowe's Home Improvement, National Association of Letter Carriers, National Coalition of Associations of 7-Eleven Franchisees, Safeway, Inc., Tall Cedars of Lebanon of North America, and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).  

For more information about MDA visit

SOURCE Muscular Dystrophy Association