By JACQUELINE PRIMO | Assistant Managing Editor
The Seventh Annual Hope for Hannah and Gaby Gala on Thursday, Oct. 29 raised $880,000 for the Rett Syndrome Research Trust, which was over $100,000 more than was raised at last year’s event.
“It completely exceeded our expectations. We had no idea it was going to do this well,” said Palisadian Heidi Epstein who co-chaired the event alongside her husband Jonathan.
The Epsteins’ daughter Hannah, 10, who was diagnosed with Rett Syndrome seven years ago, has scoliosis, a breathing disorder, digestive issues, limited speech and very little hand use.
The Epsteins co-chair the annual event with Marci and Rudy Valner, parents of a little girl with Rett Syndrome named Gaby. Many of the event’s committee members are Palisadians as well, Epstein said.
The event, held at The SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills, was completely sold out with about 500 guests in attendance, Epstein told the Palisadian-Post.
“We had to shut the site down and stop selling tickets,” Epstein, Vice-Chairman of the Rett Syndrome Research Trust exclaimed. “That was really exciting. It was packed. Everybody was really supportive and it was such a great night.”
The event was fun for all, with restaurants donating food for the booths and a cocktail party that even 10-year-old Hannah attended in a sparkly rose gold dress with a glittery tulle skirt. Big sister Jennifer, 13, was all smiles in a matching mint green dress.
Most importantly, the money raised will go to the promising research aimed at finding a cure for Rett Syndrome, Epstein said.
“We have a lot of great things to be funding, that’s for sure. That’s the real key. When I think about where we were when Hannah received her diagnosis seven years ago and where we are today, the progress is amazing,” Epstein told the Post.
Epstein said there are three clinical trials starting now to work on some of the symptoms, a gene-therapy consortium working on an actual cure and other scientific research going on nationwide.
“There’s a lot to do,” she added. “I’m so thankful because I have incredible support from so many people in the community in the Palisades.”
For more information or to donate, visit http://reverserett.org/take-action/events/hope/.
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