M.S. Society Dinner of Champions to Honor John T. Casteen III

March 5, 2009 — University of Virginia President John T. Casteen III will be honored at the 17th Annual Multiple Sclerosis Dinner of Champions, to be held Tuesday at the Omni Charlottesville Hotel.

The dinner honors outstanding community leaders as it raises funds for research, advocacy and regional programs, and also provides public education about multiple sclerosis. Casteen will receive the Silver Hope Award, the highest honor presented by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

"John Casteen provides leadership to an institution that has demonstrated its service to the community in many ways," said Leonard W. Sandridge, U.Va. executive vice president and chief operating officer. "The Dinner of Champions is further evidence of the important role that organizations such as the M.S. Society play in the lives of persons with special needs in our community. John Casteen is honored to lend his support to the M.S. Society Blue Ridge Chapter."

Casteen will be toasted and roasted by politics professor Larry Sabato, former U.Va. coach and sports information director Gene Corrigan and Virginia Tech President Charles Steger. W. Heywood Fralin, rector of the U.Va. Board of Visitors, will serve as emcee for the evening.   

As president of U.Va., Casteen has been instrumental in fostering innovative programs, academic centers and clinics, such as the James Q. Miller M.S. Clinic, which was instituted in 2000.

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. Scientists believe people develop M.S. when their immune system reacts abnormally and attacks the fatty tissues that protect the central nervous system, including the spine, brain and optic nerves. These attacks happen randomly and over time wear away a person's control over his body.

U.Va.'s M.S. Clinic is the only multidisciplinary multiple sclerosis clinic in the Commonwealth of Virginia. In addition to providing diagnostic evaluations, second opinion assessments, and drug therapy trials, the M.S. clinic also offers services tailored to the needs to people living with M.S.

"The University provides the essential resources that allow the clinic to function and provide services to patients living with M.S.," said Myla Goldman, co-director of the James Q. Miller M.S. Clinic. "Patients living with M.S. have very complicated needs and therefore require a multidisciplinary approach. That is the model for excellent care."

The clinic brings together specialists in functional and cognitive assessments, physical and occupation therapy, social work, and neuropsychology testing and therapy. The clinic sees more than 600 clients from throughout Virginia and offers telemedicine access for neurological consultations for the many rural patents who need the advice of an M.S. specialist.

Casteen joins other community leaders who have been honored in past years. They are: the late Hovey S. Dabney; Leigh B. Middleditch Jr,; the late Eric M. Heiner; Lawrence S. Eagleburger; John W. Kluge; Mrs. Frederic W. Scott; Bruce and Jim Murray; Mary Helen Gammon Jessup; Lucius H. Bracey, Jr., David W. Carr; Paul H. Wood; W. A. Pace, Jr.; Wick and Carter McNeely; Gene Corrigan; Jim Haden; and Carter Beauford, the late LeRoi Moore and Boyd Tinsley of Dave Matthews Band.

Since the first event in 1992, the Dinner of Champions has been well attended by the community and has been a successful fundraising event for the Blue Ridge Chapter. Money raised by the event funds the research necessary to find the cause and cure for multiple sclerosis. Funds also support the local programs and services for more than 3,000 people with M.S. and their families in 51 counties of Virginia served by the Blue Ridge Chapter. All of the costs of the dinner have been underwritten by generous sponsors so that all gifts raised will go to support research, advocacy, educational programs and services provided by the National M.S. Society.

For information about the dinner, to purchase tickets, or to learn more about the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Blue Ridge Chapter, call 434-971-8010 or 1-800-FIGHT-MS, or consult the Web site.