Why I Give
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were blessed with friends who wanted to help, who really felt for
our plight ours and our daughter's," Tom recalls. "They
wanted to do something, but they didn't know how."
Sheraks created a foundation at UCLA dedicated to multiple sclerosis
research. "We didn't have millions of dollars to give,"
Tom says. "But we provided the seed money. Now all our friends
were able to do whatever they wanted to do for us by giving to the
Sherak Family Fund for MS at UCLA."
have included friends both inside and outside of "the business,"
from Hollywood producers to teachers at Madeleine's middle school.
The gifts thus far have totaled about $2 million, enabling UCLA
to bring in four new researchers in MS and attract additional research
Sheraks also played a role in the creation of UCLA's Marilyn Hilton
Multiple Sclerosis Center, a rehabilitation facility for people
who suffer from the more debilitating second stage of MS.
in the meantime, has gone on to complete two degrees at UCLA, a
B.A. in psychology in 1994 serving on the Bruin cheerleading
squad along the way and an M.P.H. in 1999. And while she
still struggles with what is termed relapsing-remitting MS, with
symptoms that come and go unpredictably, she is helped by a medication
that is among many recent advances in MS research. The mother of
a 2-year-old, she works part-time at UCLA's Center for Human Nutrition,
teaches nutrition at Pepperdine University, runs support groups
for other young MS sufferers and, recently, as an example of a local
champion, carried the Olympic torch through L.A.
hope that this a disease like this never enters your
life," says her father. "But if it does, you can sit back
and feel sorry for yourself or you can feel positive and
make a difference. We believe that we can make a difference.
thing that is so amazing to us," he adds, "is that it's
not us making the difference; it's all our friends."