News & Stories

The Golden West Chapter to honor champions in the search for treatments and cures for ALS

Champion For Cures And Care

The Golden West Chapter of The ALS Association will host their Champions for Cures and Care on Friday, January 20, 2023 at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport in Burlingame. This inspirational and informative event celebrates individuals and organizations whose contributions and efforts advance the Chapter’s mission critical activities.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a fatal, neurodegenerative illness that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. The average life expectancy of a person with ALS is two to five years from diagnosis. As the disease progresses, people with ALS lose the ability to walk, move, speak, swallow and, eventually, to breathe– all while the mind and senses continue to function. Veterans are at twice the risk as those who have not served in the military. Currently, there is no known cause or cure for ALS.

Supporters of the ALS community are invited to enjoy an elegant and festive evening featuring cocktails and wine tasting; a silent and live auction; gourmet dinner; special guest appearances; entertainment; the announcement of the 2023 Barber ALS Research Award winners; and the presentation of the Golden West Chapter’s highest honors, The Essey Awards.

The prestigious Essey Awards, named in honor of one of the chapter’s founding board members, San Francisco’s Richard “Dick” Essey, are given annually for outstanding efforts in support of The ALS Association’s mission priorities in ALS research, care services, and advocacy initiatives. The Golden West Chapter will recognize the following honorees for outstanding achievements in the fight against ALS:

Commitment to Cures Award: The Golden West Chapter will recognize The California ALS Research Network for their extensive efforts and collaboration on ALS research, development, and education; and its dedication to bring treatments and cures to the ALS community. Since their inception in 2010, this group of global leaders, in partnership with the Golden West Chapter, are accelerating discovery, promoting collaboration and achieving breakthroughs in the search for effective treatments and cures for ALS. The network hosts an annual gathering of researchers, investigators, clinicians, biotech companies, government representatives, partner organizations, and advocates in ALS and related fields in the State of California. The purpose of the California ALS Research Summit is to help increase, expedite and promote the amount and level of ALS and related research done in California; and to foster networking, collaboration and cooperation among investigators, their peers and their colleagues to identify, develop and deliver new and effective treatments, ideas and, ultimately, cures for ALS. The result is an ongoing roadmap for ALS research in California, which will provide the basis for partnering within the state and other supporters to further studies to find effective treatments and cures for the disease.  As a part of their efforts, the annual Barber ALS Research Awards were created, in honor of one of the founding members of the California ALS Research Network, which are presented each year to encourage collaboration and the sharing of new ideas with early-career researchers as well as give special recognition. This year, the 2023 Barber ALS Research Award winners will be presented as a part of the Champions celebration

Dean and Kathleen Rasmussen Advocate of the Year:
The Chapter will also honor Jeremy Merz for his efforts as a healthcare advocate and for helping to accelerate the search for effective treatments and cures for ALS. Jeremy is the Department Vice President, State Government Relations for American Property Casualty Insurance Association. As a California lobbyist, he worked closely with the Golden West Chapter leadership on advancing an annual augmentation of $500,000 in state funding in support of our unparalleled wraparound model of care. This addition will fuel the development of two new Certified Treatment Centers of Excellence (CTCE) at Stanford University and University of California, Los Angeles, and will also support five satellite multidisciplinary ALS clinics. The funding will also cover costs for durable medical equipment, communication equipment, and will offset out-of-pocket costs for respite care for ALS families.  The request, which covers the next four years, was approved and included in Governor Newsom’s funding priorities. This victory for the ALS community is particularly poignant, given Jeremy’s own diagnosis with ALS in March of 2022 and inspirational battle with the challenges of the devastating neurodegenerative disease.

During the event guests will enjoy live music by Carlos Calvo and friends. Carlos, often called Hollywood’s “Guitar Teacher to the Stars” combines Alternative Folk/Pop with virtuoso guitar playing. The live auction will be hosted by Emmy Award-winning radio & TV personality, Liam Mayclem. Mayclem is best known as the host of EYE ON THE BAY on CBS 5 and as “The Foodie Chap” celebrating San Francisco Bay Area culinary stars daily on #1 KCBS Radio.

Proceeds from Champions for Cures and Care will provide funding for the Golden West Chapter’s mission priorities in care services, public policy, and cutting-edge global research toward effective treatments and cures for ALS.  Sponsorship and ticket purchase opportunities are now available. Please contact Asher Garfinkel, Vice President of Community Outreach, at for more information. Interested in donating an item to be included in the silent or live auction, or if you are attending the event and wish to stay at the host hotel Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport, please email Katey Randall, Special Events Coordinator, at

Share This Article: