By Barrett Neale
On April 10, as the current Orioles wrap up their first homestand of the season, former team members will come together at the Pier 5 Hotel to raise money to fight kidney diseases.
The event, called "Coundown to a Cure," is the primary fundraising effort for the NephCure Foundation, which is devoted to researching, improving treatment and finding a cure for the kidney diseases Nephrotic Syndrome and Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis.
It is a cause that hits home for Jim Duquette, an analyst for MLB.com and MLB Network Radio who formerly served as vice president of baseball operations for the Orioles and general manager for the New York Mets.
|Jim and Lindsay Duquette (Photo courtesy of Greg Wiley)|
When Duquette's 9-year-old daughter, Lindsey, was 2, she was diagnosed with FSGS, a disease that harms the kidney's filtering system (glomeruli) and causes scarring. There are currently no FDA-approved treatments for FSGS. Duquette said Lindsey had taken a number of different drugs to treat her FSGS, but none had put her in full remission for a long period of time. She is currently using an experimental drug, called Rituximab.
"We're kind of now at another crossroads because she hasn't been currently responding to that," Duquette said, "so we're in the process of trying to find the next treatment. Hopkins has been recommending to do a nephrectomy, which is remove the kidneys, and we're obviously reluctant to do that."
When Lindsey was first diagnosed, one of her doctors put Duquette and his wife, Pam, in touch with Henry Brahm, executive director of NephCure. Since 2004, Duquette has been on the organization's board of directors.
"It's become a very large support group and network of people -- families, doctors, nurses -- all kind of moving toward one cause," Duquette said, "which is obviously to try to find a cure, try to raise money for not only awareness, but for research, because there's no known cure and it primarily affects children. That gets the attention of a lot of people when you're trying to raise money for it."
Countdown to a Cure has been held in various cities throughout the country, raising more than $2 million since its inception, but this is the first time the event will be in Baltimore. Duquette is co-chairman of the event, along with Warren Sollod, who Duquette said had been instrumental in contacting former Orioles and asking them to attend.
Former Orioles Rick Dempsey, Mike Flanagan, Chris Hoiles, Jim Palmer and Bill Swaggerty will be at Countdown to a Cure, as well as Orioles broadcasters Tom Davis, Fred Manfra and Dave Johnson. Davis and Manfra will be emcees of the event, which will include a cocktail reception and a dinner cooked by Bryan Sullivan, executive chef of Harbor Magic Hotel.
There will be both live and silent auctions, which Duquette said would include a trip to see the Orioles play the Angels in Los Angeles, including game and airline tickets as well as hotel accommodations; items autographed by current and former Orioles and Ravens; and a dinner for eight at the winner's home, cooked by Sullivan.
NephCure will also be honoring Steve Geppi, CEO of Diamond Comic Distributors, as a 2011 Public Service Award recipient.
"He's been an important member of the community," Duquette said, "not only from a business standpoint but also raising money and awareness for different charities."
Ticket prices for the event begin at $75, but sponsorship opportunities are as much as $5,000. Those who are unable to attend can make a general donation online at nephcure.org.
Duquette said he expected close to 200 people at the dinner, and his educated guess with hope of raising at least $25,000, but that did not factor in expenses or last-minute donations.
"It's a difficult disease that afflicts kids and has no cure," Duquette said. "That in itself has a negative kind of connotation to it, but we're trying to obviously, because of my involvement in baseball and everything else, trying to make it a fun activity and an evening that gives people a chance to get away from the negativity involved with a disease like this."
More Front Row:
• Coaching Byword At Hopkins: Take A Seat And Stay Awhile
• 'Countdown' Fights Kidney Diseases
• Umpires Want To Honor Ernie Tyler
• Mud Chasers Slate April Run-Wallow
• Two New Books For Baseball Fans
• From The Cheap Seats
Issue 159: March 2011