This story appears in the Winter 2016 issue of the Life.Giving.Breakthroughs. donor newsletter.
When Audrey McNiff first met Ann Romney, she was struck by Romney’s vibrance, optimism, and compassion for others.
“I didn’t think I could possibly admire Ann more, but then I saw how she was devoting her amazing energy to advance neurologic research at Brigham and Women’s Hospital,” McNiff says.
In October 2014, Romney helped the hospital launch the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases, co-directed by pioneering physician-researchers Dennis J. Selkoe, MD, and Howard L. Weiner, MD, to accelerate treatments, prevention, and cures for five of the world’s most common neurologic diseases: MS, Alzheimer’s disease, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), Parkinson’s disease, and brain tumors.
McNiff, who attended the center’s launch event, says, “I was so impressed by the way Ann, Dr. Selkoe, and Dr. Weiner spoke about the goals and what has been accomplished so far. The center is all about treating these diseases that rob people of life, dignity, and so much more.”
Compelled to help the cause, she joined the center’s advisory board to raise awareness about the work, and made a commitment of $350,000 to continue the center’s momentum in research and discovery.
“Being on the advisory board has allowed me to see and feel connected to the progress,” McNiff says. “Giving to the center is a wonderful balance of engaging with a mission and people I care about and supporting a team that’s using every resource to its fullest power.”
Eager to spread the word and encourage others to get involved, in September 2015 she hosted an event for close friends to talk with Romney, Selkoe, Weiner, and other center leaders.
“As the evening unfolded, I saw people’s optimism grow, particularly for those who have been personally touched by these disorders,” says McNiff. “Many expressed hope that the research in vaccines and new treatments could help their parents, siblings, and other loved ones. It provides a huge sense of confidence this center is on the forefront of change.”