To honor their mother and to help find a cure for Parkinson’s Disease, sister and brother Melissa and David Blechman created the Blechman Foundation. The siblings who grew up in Pinecrest said their inspiration, their mother, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2008 at the age of 50.
The Foundation’s mission is “to provide microfinancing for promising research by highly qualified scientists in need of equipment or other resources to commence or complete their work.”
“We are a brother-sister team. Together, we tapped our entrepreneurial spirit to form the Blechman Foundation in January 2012,” said Melissa Blechman, 28, who serves as the group’s vice-president. She now lives and works in New York.
The Foundation recently awarded its first grant to Shivraj Sohur, M.D., Ph.D., whose laboratory at the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Neurodegenerative Diseases is studying breakthrough therapies for the treatment of patients with Parkinson’s.
“At the Blechman Foundation, our efforts are carving out a critical niche in Parkinson’s research – neuroprotective drugs. These drugs have the potential to slow or even halt the disease process before it develops and becomes symptomatic,” said Foundation President David Blechman, 25, who works in Chicago. “With support for this research, we’re hopeful that future generations may never experience [Parkinson’s] symptoms. Our mission has a unique focus – it sets us apart – and success would have global impact for neurological health.
“We’re so grateful for all of the encouragement and support we’ve received in the Miami community and beyond. My sister and I urge everyone to join us and make effective neuroprotection a reality – as soon as possible. It’s an issue that touches everyone and lives are depending on it.”
The group also supports the Dance For PD technique. To learn about the latest Parkinson’s research, donate, get involved, and for more on how dance helps Parkinon’s patients, visit www.blechmanfoundation.org.
FREE DANCE CLASSES
Patients with Parkinson’s are invited to get moving in free dance classes held every other week, on the second and fourth Fridays of the month, from 1-2 p.m. at St. Matthews Episcopal Church, 7410 Sunset Dr. in South Miami.
And if dance is not your thing there are also various activities on Wednesdays, from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., also held at the church. Wednesday sessions can include yoga, music therapy and special speakers to help with information on how to battle this debilitating disease.
The classes are hosted by ParkOptimists, a local support group that operates as part of the National Parkinson Foundation South Florida Chapter. The group is always in need of volunteers and donations for its classes that provide temporary relief from the difficult symptoms of this disease. For more check out the Wellness Classes under the Resources tab at www.npfsouthflorida.org.
BRITISH ‘INDIANA JONES’
Tudor Parfitt, who has been called the “British Indiana Jones” for his work and discoveries of remote Jewish communities and his pursuit of the Ark of the Covenant, is the guest speaker at the next luncheon hosted by the local chapter of the Brandeis National Committee.