2007-08-31 / Community

Wings Over Wall Street Fundraiser

Help Fight ALS On September 20
By Alison Mills

Toni Diamond and her husband, Walter Schiffer, pictured at the 2001 Wings benefit. Toni Diamond and her husband, Walter Schiffer, pictured at the 2001 Wings benefit. The time of year has come again for New Yorkers to step up and lend a hand in battling the debilitating and deadly disease Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

The Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) will be holding its annual Wings Over Wall Street fundraiser on September 20, 2007 from 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the Marriott Marquis in Manhattan. Over 1,000 supporters are expected to attend the cocktail reception and exciting silent, live, and research minute auctions.

Former Rockaway residents Warren Schiffer and Toni Diamond founded Wings of Hope, after Diamond was diagnosed with ALS in 2000. Schiffer, a native of Rockaway Beach, and Diamond, who was raised in Massachusetts, met while they were both working as flight attendants for United Airlines. The two were married in 1990; a decade later Diamond was diagnosed with ALS, and the journey of Wings of Hope was begun shortly thereafter. After the involvement of another ALS patient and Wall Street icon, Michael Beier, the Wall Street Community became involved and Wings of Hope became Wings Over Wall Street.

Larry Schiffer poses with his family at the 2001 fundraiser. Larry Schiffer poses with his family at the 2001 fundraiser. Michael Beier succumbed to the disease in 2003, and Toni Diamond passed away in the fall of 2004, but her husband Warren his brother, Larry Schiffer, continue the work begun six years ago. Since its inception, Wings has raised over $6 million for ALS research, which directly benefits the Eleanor and Lou Gehrig MDA/ALS Center at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, and the Packard Center for ALS Research at Johns Hopkins.

Several awards will be presented at the fundraiser, and Larry Schiffer, a resident of East Rockaway, has been honored this year with the Humanitarian Award. In 2006 Schiffer, a lawyer, was also awarded the Edmund S. Muskie Pro Bono Award from the American Bar Association, in part for his commitment to working with Wings.

ALS is a devastating disease, progressively attacking the muscles and motor neurons responsible for the connection between the brain and skeletal muscles. ALS eventually causes total paralysis and death, most commonly due to respiratory distress. About 30,000 Americans suffer from this disease.

Warren, Larry, and their mother Alma Schiffer, a lifelong Rockaway resident, would like to encourage their fellow Rockawayites to contribute what they can to this very important cause.

For more information on tickets or donations, contact the Muscular Dystrophy Association, 1140 Avenue of the Americas, Suite 1801, New York, New York, 10036, 212-689-9040. You can also visit the organization's website at www.wingsoverwallstreet.org, or email MDA for information about the Wings Over Wall Street fundraiser at specialeventwings@mdausa.org.

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