Marriotts Join Romneys in Fight Against Neurologic Diseases

Two prominent American families—the Marriotts and the Romneys—are coming together around a cause with great personal meaning: fighting neurologic diseases.

Already connected by generations of friendship, former Massachusetts Governor Willard “Mitt” Romney was named for his father’s close friend J. Willard Marriott, whose enterprising root beer stand turned restaurant chain became one of the largest global hotel companies.

Marriott’s sons, J. Willard “Bill” Marriott Jr. and Richard “Dick” Marriott, have seen friends contend with the devastating effects of multiple sclerosis (MS), including Governor Romney’s wife, Ann, who has been living with MS since 1998. She now serves as global ambassador for the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases, launched at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) in 2014.

“Ann Romney has moved and empowered many people affected by neurologic diseases—patients and families alike,” says Dick, chairman of The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation. “My parents also believed that if you give to worthy causes, you will empower people and make positive change in the world.”

Recently, Dick, Bill, and fellow trustees of the Marriott Foundation pledged $2.5 million to create the Marriott Family Imaging Suite at BWH. Located in the hospital’s new Building for Transformative Medicine, the suite is equipped with some of the most advanced imaging technologies to lead research studies and provide more precise diagnoses and treatments.

“Imaging tools have changed the way neurologic diseases are understood and treated,” Bill says. “Our family hopes this new imaging suite will help transform care for patients and families.”

The Marriott family’s involvement at BWH also extends to Bill’s daughter-in-law, Carrie Marriott, a member of the advisory board for the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases. Her mother, who has MS, inspired her commitment to the center.

“It’s encouraging to hear Dr. Howard Weiner [co-director of the center] say scientists and physicians are working collaboratively to find cures, and that one day, neurologic diseases will be preventable,” Carrie says. “The future of discovery and new treatments show great promise—giving hope to my family and so many others.”