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Jennifer's Heroes: MS Society Dinner of Champions

By: Jennifer Black Email
By: Jennifer Black Email

November 19, 2009

The Blue Ridge Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society is preparing for their 18th annual Dinner of Champions event. This year, Associate Director of University of Virginia Athletics and former Cavalier basketball star, Barry Parkhill, will be honored. However, Parkhill is not the only hero behind the black tie event.

"I think the folks that will get up and roast Barry will all share a few laughs, and I think that's what it's all about; coming together and having a good time, but raising money for a worthy cause," said Dinner of Champions co-chair, David Sloan.

On December 2, Barry Parkhill's friends and family will stand before a crowd to roast this year's Dinner of Champions and Silver Hope Award honoree, but before the fun, there's the fundraising.

"It's an incredible amount of coordination, and the MS Society does a great job. It is inspiring to see how people respond when you're asking for help," said Sloan.

The 2008 Dinner of Champions event brought in $170,000 and organizers hope to meet or break that record in 2009. Beyond the black ties, the event raises funds for research and advocacy services for people with MS, which is about 3,000 people in our area alone.

"Every donation goes to research. We are more hopeful each day that we'll find a cure and prevent MS for future generations," said local MS Society Chapter President, Fay Painter.

The night ends with the presentation of the Silver Hope Award, the highest honor in the MS Society. The award will go to Parkhill.

"The award is always presented by someone who has MS, who talks about how MS has affected their life and their family, so that really brings it home to all of the attendees," said Painter.

This year, Parkhill will dedicate his award to Scott McCandlish, a former teammate of his who passed away from complications related to Multiple Sclerosis in 2007.

"That's the type of people that we want to reward, that have the integrity, the loyalty, and the commitment to different aspects of the community," said Dinner of Champions co-chair, Joe Gieck.

The Dinner of Champions on December 2nd is sure to feature a room of heroes, putting their heads together to organize a night for the real champions, those living with Multiple Sclerosis.

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