14th Annual Himelic Memorial Golf and Dinner Classic, Oct. 3, Raises Funds for ALS Research at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson

Release Date: 
Sep 23, 2014

Jim HimelicSince 2001, the Jim Himelic Foundation (JHF) has organized Tucson’s annual Himelic Memorial Golf and Dinner Classic to raise funds to benefit local research into amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) – a progressive, fatal neurodegenerative disease that can strike people from all walks of life.

The 14th annual Himelic Memorial Golf and Dinner Classic will be held Friday, Oct. 3, at the Omni Tucson National Resort, 2727 W. Club Drive, Tucson. Guest speaker will be Warner Smith, UA alumnus ’94 and PAC 10 All Conference football player, who recently was diagnosed with ALS at age 41.

Supporting this local effort to eradicate ALScan make an immediate difference. All proceeds from the event directly benefit investigations at the Jim Himelic Neuromuscular Research Laboratory at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson Department of Neurology. The funds are “seed money” that allow UA researchers to conduct the preliminary research necessary for obtaining larger government and private grants to further their studies of ALS, which affects an estimated 30,000 Americans at any given time, according to the ALS Association.

Although advances have been made in understanding ALS in the 70 years since baseball legend Lou Gehrig passed away at age 37 from what has come to be known as “Lou Gehrig’s disease,” researchers are continuing to try to understand ALS and develop effective treatments that ultimately will lead to a cure.

To date, JHF has raised $918,000 to benefit UA ALS research. JHF’s goal is to raise $1 million with the fundraising event, named in honor of Jim Himelic, a friend of the Tucson community and much-respected juvenile court judge who died fromALSin February 2000. Jim’s family, friends and colleagues created the JHF in 2000 to fund localALSresearch.

Event organizers once again are asking the Southern Arizona community to participate in this fun-filled event. Golf enthusiasts can experience one of Golf Digest’s “75 Best Golf Resorts in North America,” while non-golfers can enjoy dinner, auctions and dancing to live music.

The event schedule includes:

11 a.m. - Noon            Registration

12:30 - 5 p.m.             Four-player scramble tournament play

5:30 - 7 p.m.               Cocktails and silent auction

7 - 10 p.m.                  Dinner, live auction and dancing to live music by The Roadhouse

Fees are as follows:

  • Golf/dinner/auction/dancing: $175 per person, $700 per foursome. Format will be four-person scramble (form your own foursome or the JHF will pair you). Limited to 144 players.
  • Dinner/auctions/dancing only: $75. 
  • Sponsorships:
    1. Premier: $1,000
    1. Driving range: $500
    1. Mulligan: $500
    1. Practice green: $500
    1. Tee sign: $300 

To register, or for more information about the Himelic Memorial Golf and Dinner Classic and ALS research at the UA, please visit the website, www.jimhimelicfoundation.org or contact Diana Himelic Dawley, 520-907-5235, email dianahimelic@yahoo.com (Those who are unable to attend the event but who still would like make a donation may do so online.)

 The public’s help continues to be needed.JHFbelieves thatALScan be cured through focused, dedicated neurological research within the next quarter century. 

Thanks to JHF “seed money,” UA researcher Daniela C. Zarnescu, PhD, UA associate professor of molecular and cellular biology, neuroscience and neurology, has been awarded several national grants. Dr. Zarnescu is modeling ALS in the fruit fly Drosophila, a powerful genetic model that harbors several genes similar to those linked to human neurological and neurodegenerative disorders. ALS affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord responsible for movement, causing a loss of muscle function – including the muscles used for speech, swallowing and breathing – and paralysis that eventually leads to death. The mind and senses mostly remain unaffected (some patients may have cognitive changes, including depression and problems with decision-making and memory). 

JHF also works with neurologists Katalin Scherer, MD, and Holli Horak, MD, both UA associate professors of neurology, to apply ALS research in a clinical setting at the MDA/ALS Center at the University of Arizona Medical Center – South Campus, Southern Arizona’s only multidisciplinary clinic dedicated to the care of patients withALS, whichmost commonly strikes people between ages 40 and 60, but sometimes younger and older as well. JHF hopes to fund local and national multi-center clinical trials, based on theALS patient base of Southern Arizona, with the help of the clinic, which is one of only 44 facilities at major medical institutions in the nation designated by the Muscular Dystrophy Association asMDA/ALS Centers, indicating the high level of expert medical care and clinical research taking place there.