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Celebrating the 2024 Commitment to Cures Gala

At the 2024 Commitment to Cures Fundraising Gala, we raised essential funds that will support brain disease research, heard inspiring stories from people directly impacted by brain disease, and celebrated breakthroughs in research.

483 people attended the 2024 Commitment to Cures Gala in Denver, Colorado. This year’s fundraising gala was emceed by Kristen Aguirre, journalist, brain health advocate, and stroke survivor. 

To kick off the evening, Kristen shared her powerful story of suffering a life-changing stroke as a young adult, along with her inspiring recovery journey. Through medical intervention, therapy, and her own perseverance, Kristen learned how to walk again and ultimately returned to a career in journalism. She highlighted the necessity of funding research to deepen our understanding of brain diseases and disorders so we can one day prevent and cure them.

Throughout the evening, we honored people who have made a difference for those impacted by brain diseases, disorders, and injuries, and their families.

Each year, we celebrate one advocate for increasing public awareness about brain disease and the necessity of supporting research with the Public Leadership in Neurology Award. 

Cam Heyward accepts the Public Leadership in Neurology Award from host Kristen Aguirre.

This year, we recognized Cam Heyward, Pittsburgh Steeler and 2023 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year with the Public Leadership in Neurology Award. Cam Heyward received this award for his critical advocacy work in raising awareness about brain cancer and cancers that spread to the brain and for his dedicated college scholarship fund that supports families affected by brain cancer.

We also honored researchers for making a difference in the field. Scientific research has the power to improve diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes by increasing our understanding of the brain and the conditions that can affect it.

Dr. Bruce Ovbiagele received the 2024 Scientific Breakthrough Award for his work to improve outcomes following stroke for people in underserved communities and address systemic biases in healthcare. Dr. Ovbiagele has also dedicated himself to training and mentoring researchers in underrepresented groups, which could one day lead to further innovation in research to support more people with brain diseases and disorders.

Cam Heyward and Dr. Ovbiagele join a respected group of award recipients whose work in advocacy and research are making an impact for those with brain diseases and disorders.

We recognized additional award recipients for their contributions to brain disease research. These included:

  • The 2024 winner of the Board Chair Award Jim Essey, for his commitment to the board of the American Brain Foundation and his family’s lifelong commitment to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) research.
  • The winner of the 2024 Sheila Essey Award for ALS Research, Dr. Eva Feldman, for her research in fundamental and clinical neuroscience in relation to ALS along with work on ALS epidemiology. 
  • The 2024 winner of the Potamkin Prize for Research in Pick’s, Alzheimer’s, and Related Diseases, Dr. Francisco Lopera, for his impact on Alzheimer’s disease research.

In addition to the incredible people who received awards, we were honored to have special guest Kim Cade on stage to share her family’s moving story of life with ALSP, a rare terminal brain disease. 

Her brother, Jeffrey first noticed difficulty speaking while working as the organizer for a large youth soccer organization. Doctors thought he suffered a stroke, but his ability to speak and walk continued to worsen. He received a second misdiagnosis of multiple sclerosis before later genetic testing revealed he had adult-onset leukoencephalopathy with axonal spheroids and pigmented glia (ALSP), a brain disease with no cure. Genetic testing revealed that Kim and her other brother Joseph also have the gene responsible for ALSP. Now an advocate, Kim highlighted the need for research funding to discover potential ALSP treatments – and one day, a cure.

With the help of our donors, we raised $542,000 for brain disease research during the Commitment to Cures Gala. The proceeds raised from the event directly support the work of brain disease researchers by promoting and funding critical research that will lead to treatments and cures for many brain diseases and disorders. If you contributed this year, we sincerely thank you.

While Commitment to Cures only happens once a year, you can get involved with the American Brain Foundation and help fund essential research year round. You can subscribe to our newsletter, follow us on social media, or attend our free webinars to learn more. If you or a loved one lives with brain disease, you can join us by sharing your story.