CAF’s Annual Gala on June 7 is a Celebration of Hope

April 23, 2018 – CAF is proud to present our annual Gala on Thursday, June 7, 2018 at the Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers in Manhattan. Nick Leschly, chief bluebird of bluebird bio, will accept the Humanitarian of the Year award on behalf of the company, which is conducting clinical trials in gene therapy for beta-thalassemia, as well as developing treatments for other conditions. Tracy Antonelli will receive the Patient Recognition award in acknowledgement of her triumphs over the challenges of living with thalassemia and her adoption of three children with thalassemia from China.

With its lentiviral-based gene therapies, T cell immunotherapy expertise and gene editing capabilities, bluebird bio has built an integrated product platform with broad potential application to severe genetic diseases and cancer. bluebird’s investigational one-time gene therapy has the potential to eliminate or reduce chronic blood transfusions in patients with transfusion-dependent β-thalassemia.

In making this announcement, Peter Chieco, incoming National President of the Cooley’s Anemia Foundation Board of Directors, said, “For years, the Cooley’s Anemia Foundation has been a champion of gene therapy as a potential curative approach to thalassemia. We are thrilled to have this opportunity to recognize the exceptional work and dedication of bluebird bio in this exciting area. bluebird bio’s commitment gives hope to thalassemia patients here in the United States and around the world.”

bluebird is deeply honored to receive this year’s Cooley’s Anemia Foundation Humanitarian Award and we accept it on behalf of all living with thalassemia,” said Nick Leschly, chief bluebird, bluebird bio. “Our work is just beginning and we are dedicated to proving our belief that a one-time gene therapy holds the potential to transform the treatment of thalassemia and improve the lives of patients. We could not have made the progress we’ve made, or look to the road ahead, without the tremendous partnership of the thalassemia patients and their families who have participated in our clinical studies, the study investigators, and patient advocacy organizations who come together with a common purpose to advance treatment.”

Cooley’s Anemia Foundation is also honoring Tracy Antonelli, recipient of the Patient Recognition Award. Tracy is part of a new generation of thalassemia patients who, thanks to advances in care, are living longer, fuller lives. In years past, patients had little hope of living far into adulthood, getting married or starting careers. With newfound hope, people like Tracy are overcoming their obstacles and enjoying life experiences previously closed to them. One way in which Tracy has chosen to share this sense of hope is through adoption of children with thalassemia who would otherwise have little chance of growing and thriving.

“Many children in other parts of the world do not have access to the exceptional standard of care that is available here in the United States,” said Mr. Chieco, adding that about 10% of patients in the Cooley’s Anemia Foundation database are adopted from overseas. “Tracy’s selfless sharing of herself as a mother who can personally relate to the struggles these children face is an inspiration. These adorable children are blessed to be brought up by someone who is in all ways an exemplary role model; their lives and futures have been altered in an amazing way.”

I am proud of the achievements I have made in my life professionally in the field of clinical research, but my proudest accomplishment is being a mother to these amazing children,” says Tracy Antonelli. “I knew from when I was very young that I wanted to adopted a child from China. When I learned that children were being abandoned because of their thalassemia, my mind was made up. I am so honored and humbled to be recognized by the Cooley’s Anemia Foundation. Thanks to years of tireless work by the Cooley’s Anemia Foundation, I know that the future is very bright for my daughters.”

The 2018 Gala Chairman, Frank Fusaro, President, The Forum Group; Chairman, Columbus Citizens Foundation; and Member of the Board of Directors of Cooley’s Anemia Foundation announced, “Your support of our efforts on behalf of our patients and their families is very appreciated. Please join us on June 7th to help us honor these deserving individuals and to meet some of the members of our thalassemia family and many of us who support them. I hope to see you at the Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers at 6:00 on June 7th!”

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