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BROADWAY STARS, TONY AND GRAMMY WINNERS, TAKE THE STAGE TO RAISE FUNDS AND AWARENESS FOR
THE PULMONARY FIBROSIS FOUNDATION
Julie Halston, Robert Creighton, Daveed Diggs, Randy Graff, Cady Huffman, Judy Kaye, Hunter Ryan Herdlicka, Lisa Howard, Telly Leung, Margo Seibert, Zakiya Young at the sixth annual Broadway Belts for PFF!
CHICAGO, March 9, 2016 – Key members of the pulmonary fibrosis (PF) community and Broadway’s finest united for a unique evening of exceptional entertainment during the sixth annual Broadway Belts for PFF! Raising $180,000 in one evening, proceeds are used to battle PF, a devastating and relentlessly progressive disease involving scarring of the lungs.
Held at New York’s historic Edison Ballroom, award-winning actress and dedicated Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF) advocate Julie Halston hosted the event, which she and her husband, Ralph Howard, conceived of after their dear friend, Associated Press (AP) theater critic Michael Kuchwara, succumbed to the disease. In an unfortunate coincidence, Howard was subsequently diagnosed with the disease and successfully underwent lung transplantation. With no cure, many without a lung transplant live only three to five years following diagnosis.
“Everyone needs to know about the unparalleled work done by the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation so that they, too, can help eradicate this terrible disease by getting involved,” Halston said. “When my husband and I started this benefit to remember our friend Michael, we knew that partnering with the PFF to spread awareness and raise funds would bring us closer to a cure. Broadway Belts for PFF! has raised approximately $700,000 since we began. That’s extraordinary, but unfortunately, there remains a lot more work to do.”
Broadway stars showcased their belting talents during an evening of melody under the musical direction of Christopher McGovern and returning director Carl Andress, who has directed all six of the Broadway Belts for PFF! performances. The star-studded cast included Tony Award winners Randy Graff (City of Angels), Cady Huffman (The Producers), Judy Kaye (Phantom of the Opera, Nice Work If You Can Get It), Grammy Award winner Daveed Diggs (Hamilton), Telly Leung (Allegiance), Robert Creighton (The Mystery of Edwin Drood), Lisa Howard (It Should Have Been You), Margo Seibert (Rocky), Hunter Ryan Herdlicka (Once Upon a Mattress) and Zakiya Young (Disgraced, Orange is the New Black). Halston hosted the program for the sixth time with her incomparable humor and skillful narration. She most recently appeared in the hit Tony winning Broadway show You Can’t Take it With You.
This year’s energetic cabaret-style show included a commanding performance from Daveed Diggs of this year’s Grammy award-winning Hamilton, who debuted his original rap, “Breathe.” Written specifically for the event and inspired by the evening’s theme, Diggs’ song detailed the difficulties of living with this debilitating disease, declaring “at times it feels dangerous to use my voice,” alluding to the very real need to conserve one’s breath.
“We are incredibly grateful to our dear friends and producers Julie Halston, D. Michael Dvorchak, Ed Windels, Sue Frost, and Carl Andress for the magic they weave into making this extraordinary event come alive,” said Patti Tuomey, president and chief executive officer, Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation. “Broadway Belts for PFF! always features people with such amazing talent who care deeply about helping others, which means a great deal to the pulmonary fibrosis community.”
Broadway Belts for PFF! began in 2011 as an evening to honor AP theater critic and reporter, Michael Kuchwara. During his 25-year tenure as a critic, Kuchwara’s reviews and coverage of North American theater were among the nation’s most widely read. In May 2010, Kuchwara passed away from complications due to idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Broadway’s Halston, friend of Kuchwara, became a leading spokesperson for the PFF after her husband, broadcaster Ralph Howard, received a lung transplant due to idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis shortly after Kuchwara’s passing.
The Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation would like to thank the 2016 Broadway Belts for PFF! sponsors: Producer’s Guild: Genentech; Presenting: Doug & Gay Lane Charitable Foundation; Director’s Circle: Rob Edmunds III, Steffy Family Foundation Fund; Broadway Partner: Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids, Inc., Monica & Philip Rosenthal, Rosenthal Family Foundation, Daryl & Steven Roth Foundation, J. Todd Tullis, The Winfield Foundation; Ensemble Member: George & Elizabeth Eliades, Mary Halston & Bruce Sternemann, Michelle Harmon-Madsen & Ken Madsen, ICL, The Nederlander Organization, The New York Presbyterian/Columbia PFF Care Center, Ogilvy CommonHealth, Patient Services, Inc., The Yale Center for Interstitial Lung Diseases, Section of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at Yale School of Medicine (a PFF Care Center Network site); Chorus Line: Martin & Colleen Attwell, Daniel Dolgin & Loraine Gardner, Robert Ezykowich, The France Foundation, Jennifer Galvin, Mike & Donna Henderson, InspiRx, Kevin & Karen Lane, Joseph & Kathleen Masterson, Robert & Patricia Ross on behalf of FARE, Bruce T. Sloane, Steve & Joan Wald.
All funds raised through Broadway Belts for PFF! will go toward the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation’s Michael Kuchwara Fund for Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Research, Education, and Advocacy.
To make a donation to the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, please visit pulmonaryfibrosis.org.
Broadway Belts for PFF! cast members, musicians and producers: Front row, left to right: Drew Charles Bastian, Daveed Diggs, Hunter Ryan Herdlicka, Jeremy Benton, Josh Walden, Carl Andress; middle, Christopher McGovern, Robert Creighton, Ellen Zolezzi, Judy Kaye, Louis Tucci; back row, Zakiya Young, Telly Leung, Randy Graff, Cady Huffman, Danette Holden, Lisa Howard, Margo Seibert, Julie Halston, D. Michael Dvorchak, Sue Frost, Ed Windels. The Tony and Grammy award-winning cast performed at the sixth annual Broadway Belts for PFF! fundraiser to benefit the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation at the Edison Ballroom, New York City, February 29, 2016. Photo by Jenny Anderson.
About the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation
The mission of the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF) is to serve as the trusted resource for the pulmonary fibrosis (PF) community by raising awareness, providing disease education, advancing care and funding research. The PFF collaborates with physicians, organizations, people with PF and caregivers worldwide. The Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation has a four-star rating from Charity Navigator and is a Better Business Bureau accredited charity. The PFF Summit 2017: From Bench to Bedside, the PFF's fourth biennial international health care conference, will be held November 9-11, 2017. For more information visit pulmonaryfibrosis.org or call 844.TalkPFF (844.825.5733) or +1 312.587.9272 from outside of the U.S.
About Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a condition in which, over a period of time, lung tissue becomes thickened, stiff and scarred. The development of the scar tissue is called fibrosis. As the lung tissue becomes scarred and grows thicker, the lungs lose their ability to transfer oxygen into the bloodstream. As a result, the brain and other organs don’t receive enough oxygen. In some cases, doctors can determine the cause of the fibrosis, but in many cases, there is no known cause. When the cause of the fibrosis is unknown (and certain pathologic or radiographic criteria are met), the disease is called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis or IPF. There is no cure for IPF. Presently, there are two FDA-approved treatments for IPF in the U.S.