Ability and Beyond Dinner 2015

Endeavour to Succeed with Captain Mark Kelly at the Ability & Beyond Dinner

The charity’s annual Ability & Beyond Dinner, presented by Bell will feature the astronaut as keynote speaker

On Thursday, June 4, 2015 guests will be inspired by formal fighter pilot, astronaut and caregiver Captain Mark Kelly, speaking at March of Dimes Canada’s Ability & Beyond Dinner. The dinner, presented by Bell, supports the Aphasia and Alternative Communication Program and takes place at the Fairmont Royal York, 100 Front Street West, Toronto, ON.

Captain Mark Kelly is an American astronaut who flew missions aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour, and the Space Shuttle Discovery, and is one of only two individuals who has visited the International Space Station on four different occasions. He is also a retired US Navy Captain, bestselling author, prostate cancer survivor, and an experienced naval aviator. Named one of Esquire’s 2011 Americans of the Year, Kelly exemplifies leadership, the importance of teamwork, and courage under pressure. 

Captain Kelly will speak about his incredible life and his personal experience as a caregiver for his wife, former US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Giffords suffered a traumatic brain injury, the result of an assassination attempt in 2011.

Captain Kelly will share stories designed to inspire and help people find their purpose. He says he has learned valuable lessons from his experiences flying in combat, his space missions and more personally, when his wife was shot and his world changed forever. He became Ms. Gifford’s primary caregiver during her recovery from her brain injury, which also resulted in aphasia. He continues this role today, and cherishes it. He will speak about the effects of aphasia on his whole family.

Approximately 1/3 of brain injury survivors experience aphasia or communication challenges. Understanding aphasia is crucial to helping improve communication not only for the brain injury survivor, but also their caregivers and loved ones. March of Dimes Canada, through its Aphasia and Alternative Communication Program, provides services for people with aphasia, including retreats and support groups. Such programs are crucial to help alleviate the isolation and depression that can occur when living with aphasia. It’s important to recognize that aphasia is not a sign of reduced intelligence, but that a loss or reduced communication has a powerful effect on one’s life.

The evening will be hosted by Global Morning Show anchor Carolyn MacKenzie, the Co-Chairs are Scott Beckett, President Edgewater Financial Group Inc. & his wife, Kelly Beckett, and Charan Kumar Bommireddipalli, Partner Collins Barrow Toronto LLP & his wife, Vijaya Bommireddipalli.

Dr. Jean-Pierre Julien, Senior Canada Research Chair in Neurodegeneration at Laval University will be honoured with the Jonas Salk Award for his exceptional contribution to the ALS research community, and on the impact of his work towards development of new therapeutic approaches.

Dr. Julien is amongst the leading researchers in the field of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). ALS is a degenerative disorder of motor neurons that results in progressive paralysis and death within five years. There is currently no effective treatment for this terrible disease. Dr. Julien was the first to report, with the use of transgenic mice, that disorganization of cytoskeleton can cause neurological disease.

Dr. Julien obtained his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from McGill University and completed post-doctoral work at the National Institute for Medical Research in London (UK). From 1989 to 2003, he was a Professor in the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery of McGill University. 

Also present will be Dr. Emily Nalder, first March of Dimes Canada Paul J.J. Martin Professor at the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at the University of Toronto.
The Gala will also include a live and silent auction. Attendees will be able to bid on exciting trips, sports memorabilia and home appliances, among many other exciting items. 

Bell is the presenting sponsor, the invitation and print sponsor is Shoppers Home Health Care, the red carpet sponsor Inspire Cosmetics, the auction sponsor BMO Nesbitt Burns, the airline sponsor Porter, and the floral sponsor is 4165 Flower. Global Toronto is the media sponsor, Joy 1250 and CJMR 1320 the radio sponsors, the print media sponsor Toronto Sun, the print sponsor Boom Imaging and Lifford Wine and Spirits the wine sponsor. 

To purchase tickets, or for more information on the dinner, please visit www.marchofdimes.ca/gala

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