The Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) today announced the annual national gala called ‘Toast to Life’ will be held virtually and is free and open to the public to register, donate, or participate in the auction here. The virtual gala begins at 8pm ET. The event will stream live from the Chateau Luxe in Phoenix, Arizona on MDA’s YouTube channel, with support from generous sponsors Cigna, DT Midstream, Outback Bowl, StructureTone, Sarepta, National Seating and Mobility, and NuMotion. as the community joins together virtually to raise funds for the organization’s mission.

Watkins-Domalski family with Celine who lives with SMA and is receiving life-changing treatment at the MDA Care Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

The virtual event will be hosted by April Warnecke a longtime supporter of the organization, anchor, reporter, and meteorologist at 3 TV and KTVK a CBS5 based in Phoenix, Arizona.

“Over the last 18 months because of COVID-19 many things have changed, but one thing stayed the same and that’s the need for donations and generosity towards the Muscular Dystrophy Association. The world that the MDA families live in didn’t stop because of the pandemic and that means that the MDA team had to work twice as hard to fulfill their obligations, but as usual this amazing team did it again,” said Marc Rivas, Committee Chair of the Toast to Life gala and co-emcee.

The mission of the event is to raise awareness and funds for research, care, and advocacy for people living with muscular dystrophy, ALS, and related neuromuscular diseases, and updates on progress in the field will be on full display, through stories from MDA families including the Watkins-Domalski family and 2-year-old daughter Céline receiving life-changing treatment from the multi-disciplinary MDA Care Center team at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

“MDA’s Care Center at CHOP has been life-changing for our family and our daughter Céline. We are so grateful for MDA’s funding of research and care that led to treatments being available for her diagnosis with SMA. Now, instead of progressive weakness, she is getting stronger! We share our story so that communities can come together and support this important mission for families living with neuromuscular diseases,” said Amber-Joi Watkins, MDA family member.

“Scientific breakthroughs are coming faster than ever in the field of neuromuscular disease–there have been 14 FDA-approved treatments in just the past six years alone. For decades, MDA has strategically funded researchers, which has led in part to these advancements. We continue to be laser focused on our mission, and today, there are more clinical trials underway than ever before. We can’t keep this amazing pipeline of promise moving forward without the contributions of donors at wonderful events like our Annual Toast to Life. We are so grateful for their support,” said Donald S. Wood, PhD., President and CEO of MDA.

The evening will feature families living with some of the over 43 neuromuscular diseases MDA covers including Doug Clough from Arizona, living with ALS, and MDA National Ambassador Ethan LyBrand living with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and alumni MDA National Ambassador Reagan Imhoff, living with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA).

“Ever since I heard and saw anything about MDA it was a face and message of a good comedian, Jerry Lewis. Today, technology has changed many things, but MDA has always been about people helping people. And it still is people helping people,” said Doug Clough, MDA family member.

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