UA PANDA receives record donation

 Dr. Ghishan with young models from the “Children Helping Children” fundraiser.

The 18th PANDA “Children Helping Children” Fashion Show and Luncheon donated a record-breaking $1.725 million to support the PANDA Children’s Autoimmunity and Allergies Project at the UA Steele Children’s Research Center.

Net proceeds from the event were approximately $1.2 million, and the University of Arizona Foundation contributed an additional “match” of $525,000, totaling $1.725 million.

“This is truly inspiring and will enable us to advance our research examining the genetic and environmental factors that contribute to autoimmunity,” said Fayez K. Ghishan, MD, director of the UA Steele Center, and professor and head of the UA Department of Pediatrics.  “We are profoundly grateful to the PANDAs.”

The PANDA (People Acting Now Discover Answers) Children’s Autoimmunity and Allergies Project will support research in type 1 diabetes, juvenile arthritis, Crohn’s disease, colitis, severe food allergies, eosinophilic esophagitis, celiac disease and children’s post infectious autoimmune encephalopathy (CPAE). “Our hope with the research funded by the PANDA Children’s Autoimmunity and Allergies Project is to better understand why some are more prone to these diseases, what in the environment triggers a disease response in some individuals, but not in others,” said Dr. Ghishan.

The event sold out a month in advance, with 1,100 individuals attending. It took place in Scottsdale at The Phoenician on March 25. This year’s event chairs were Janey Henze Cook and Tammy Ryan. Jennifer Karas served as the PANDA board president.

The theme of event was “It’s a Small World” and it featured a children’s fashion show with 55 child models (including five “patient models”), live and silent auctions and a raffle.

Penny Gunning and Robyn DeBell founded the PANDAs in 1999.  Since then, more than 150 Valley women have worked tirelessly to donate more than $9 million to improve treatments and cures for devastating childhood diseases and recruit world-class pediatric physicians and physician-scientists to Arizona to provide families the most cutting-edge medical care. To learn more, please visit: http://www.azpanda.org.