The Whitaker Foundation awarded the Miller McNeil Woodruff Foundation a grant in 2015 with the intention to support the organization and Woodruff family in their efforts to find a cure for Spinal Muscular Atrophy.
Arkansas Children’s Hospital received the proceeds from the grant and applied the funds to the Miller McNeil Woodruff Endowment Trust, established by the Woodruff family.
Continuing To Further the Progress
In April 2016, the Whitaker and Woodruff Foundations teamed up again in the 5th annualCupcakes & Cocktails celebration and fundraising event in Miller Woodruff’s honor. Members of the Whitaker Foundation volunteered their time in preevent preparations and attended the event itself.
During the festivities, guests receive cupcakes with candles as a tribute to Miller Woodruff’s birthday, March 28th. Miller’s father, Patrick Woodruff says, “When 1,000 people sing happy birthday to Miller, it is the highlight of the evening.”
After extinguishing the candles, the event continued to the silent auction portion. Items donated by local businesses went up for bid to participating guests. The amount raised totaled over $210,000.
About Miller McNeil Woodruff
Miller McNeil Woodruff arrived on March 28, 2011. He appeared healthy and thrived for his first few weeks at home. When his developmental reflexes and activity level seemed less advanced than other infants his age, Miller’s parents sought medical attention.
Doctors at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock diagnosed Miller with Spinal Muscular Atrophy in June 2011. The condition occurs in 1 out of every 10,000 babies, but 1 in 50 adults carry the genetic malady. It is the number one cause of death for infants. At the time of his diagnosis, Miller’s parents were unaware of the disease.
Tests revealed that Miller had type 1 SMA, and would not likely reach his first birthday. After weeks of intensive care from medical professionals and his family, he passed away on June 23, 2011.
Recent Advancements In SMA Research
Spinal Muscular Atrophy affects the cells and nerves that control muscle movement, including automatic functions like breathing and swallowing. The genetic mutation that causes SMA inhibits the production of a protein that allows the nerve cells to properly function. Without the protein, muscles, and their corresponding movements diminish. On August 1, 2016, the pharmaceutical companies Biogen and Ionis announced that their collaborative efforts produced a potential treatment for infants with type 1 SMA. After a threephase trial, the results provided sufficient evidence to file for FDA approval of the medicine.
The companies intend to treat all four types of SMA with their formulations.
Our Role In Research
The Whitaker Foundation supports organizations whose primary mission is to aid in research and assistance for children with medical conditions like Miller’s. By contributing to their goals, we are able to fulfill our purpose of serving children and their families during intense periods in their lives.
For more information about our grants, and application process, please click here.