SOURCE: National Marfan Foundation

April 26, 2007 11:55 ET

Ann Reinking to Be Honored at National Marfan Foundation Benefit on April 30

PORT WASHINGTON, NY -- (MARKET WIRE) -- April 26, 2007 --Award-winning actor and choreographer Ann Reinking will be honored with a Hero with a Heart Award at the National Marfan Foundation's annual gala, Heartworks, The Marfan Gala. Reinking, whose 17-year-old son is affected by Marfan syndrome, will be recognized for her contributions to the NMF, including her role as Artistic Chair of Heartworks since 2003.

Heartworks will be held on April 30 at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City from 6-9:30 pm. In addition to Reinking, Hero with a Heart Awards will be presented to Benjamin Carpenter, Vice Chair, Greenwich Capital Markets, and Antonio Gotto, Jr., MD, Dean, Cornell Medical School. Mayor Michael Bloomberg is the Honorary Chair, and Karen Murray, Group President of Liz Claiborne, Inc., is corporate host. The evening will feature entertainment by Patti Lupone and Mandy Patinkin. Ann Curry, from NBC-TV, will serve as master of ceremonies.

Heartworks has raised more than $4 million for the NMF to date. The proceeds from the event are earmarked for Marfan syndrome research, support for individuals and families affected by the disorder, and public awareness and education.

"We are thrilled to honor Ann Reinking, a wonderful mother, friend and supporter of the National Marfan Foundation," said Murray. "She has galvanized the Broadway community, encouraging her colleagues to support her work with the Foundation. It is no coincidence that Heartworks has grown into a million dollar fundraiser and has become one of the premiere events in Manhattan since she has been involved."

Ann Reinking and the NMF

Ann Reinking, who originally trained as a ballet dancer with San Francisco Ballet and the Joffrey Ballet, is a multi-talented actress, singer and dancer. In her first year as Artistic Chair of Heartworks, she invited the Broadway cast of Chicago and performed with them as part of the evening's program. The following year, she called on fellow actor Bebe Neuwirth to join her in a performance at Heartworks.

With Ann's support, her son has contributed in another way to Marfan syndrome awareness. He is featured in a unique photo exhibit, created by Positive Exposure, which showcases the beauty of those born with a variety of medical conditions. The exhibit, which debuted at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC in 2001, now travels throughout the country.

Ann has had a remarkable career, beginning with her film debut as Troubles Moran in Movie, Movie, and then starring in All That Jazz, Annie and Micki and Maude. She has performed on Broadway, earning Tony nominations for her leading performance in Dancin' and in Goodtime Charley with Joel Grey. She has also been recognized with the Theatre World Award for her work as Maggie in Over Here and the Clarence Derwent Award. In 1997, Ann won the Tony Award, the Drama Desk Award, the Outer Critics Circle Award and the Astaire Award for her choreography for the ENCORES production of Chicago. In 1999, Fosse, which Ann directed and co-choreographed, won a Tony award for best musical. She has also remained true to her original interest, ballet, creating original pieces for American Ballet Theatre, Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, Kansas City Ballet, Ballet Hispanico, Thodos Chicago, Pacific Northwest Ballet and Jean Ruddy Dance. In addition to her work on behalf of the NMF, Ann serves on the Advisory Council of the Center for the Advancement of Children's Mental Health (CACMH) at Columbia University and the School of American Ballet.

Individual tickets are $500 per person, and $300 of each ticket is a tax-deductible donation to the NMF. For more information about sponsorships, to make a donation and to purchase tickets for Heartworks: The Marfan Gala, contact Carolyn Castellano, Vantage Consulting Group, or 212-888-7003, ext. 222.

Marfan Syndrome and The National Marfan Foundation

Marfan syndrome is a connective tissue disorder that affects the heart, blood vessels, eyes, bones, joints and lungs. It is often, but not always, characterized by a tall stature and disproportionately long legs and arms. Other skeletal manifestations are curvature of the spine, a protruding or indented chest and loose joints. The most serious problem associated with the Marfan syndrome is its effect on the aorta, the main artery carrying blood away from the heart. The aorta is prone to progressive enlargement, which can lead to tears in the aortic wall that require surgery. If aortic enlargement and tears are left undetected, the aorta may rupture, leading to sudden death.

The life expectancy for people with the Marfan syndrome who are diagnosed and treated is now in the 70s due to advances in cardiovascular surgery, increased options in medical therapy and better diagnosis. Without a proper diagnosis and medical management, they are at risk of aortic dissection and sudden death.

However, breakthrough research in the past year has identified a commonly prescribed blood pressure medicine, losartan (Cozaar), that prevents and may even reverse the potentially fatal weakening of arteries in mice with Marfan syndrome (Science, April 7, 2006). The National Institutes of Health has launched a clinical trial to study this medication in people with Marfan syndrome.

More recently, losartan has been shown to positively impact the muscle degeneration in mice with Marfan syndrome, providing further hope for the Marfan community and underscoring the need for extensive research on losartan and how it may impact the various body systems affected by Marfan syndrome.

Approximately 200,000 people in the U.S. have Marfan syndrome or a related connective tissue disorder. In most cases, the condition is inherited; one-quarter of people with Marfan syndrome are the first in their family to be affected.

The National Marfan Foundation is a non-profit voluntary health organization dedicated to saving lives and improving the quality of life of individuals and families affected by the Marfan syndrome and related disorders by:

--  Educating affected individuals, family members and the health care
    community about the Marfan syndrome.
--  Advocating for and funding clinical and molecular research into the
    early detection and treatment of Marfan syndrome.
--  Providing a network of local and special-interest support groups to
    help affected people and their families share experiences.
For more information on the Marfan syndrome, contact the NMF at 800-8-MARFAN or visit the NMF's web site at

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