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Mon, Dec 01, 2008

World Record-Breaking Flight To Raise Money, Awareness For ALS

Pilots Hope To Circle Globe In Just Seven Days

Flying for a cure, CarolAnn Garratt and Carol Foy, who have family members diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease, will circumnavigate the world in seven days, in a small Mooney M20J, attempting to shatter a world record to raise money and awareness for ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Their takeoff is scheduled for Tuesday, December 2 at 9 pm from Orlando International Airport. According to plan, they'll return seven days, 12 hours and 43 minutes later, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

"There are a million little things that can slow us down," said Foy. "I was starting to get real stressed out about it, and then a friend told me something I keep remembering - 'Just keep the pointy end forward and keep going.' It was good advice."

Paying 100 percent of the trip expenses, the pilots are hoping to raise $1 million to find a cure for ALS. Commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease, ALS is a neurodegenerative disease which attacks the motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord resulting in progressive paralysis and is considered fatal. There is no known effective treatment for ALS.

"When my mother was diagnosed with ALS, I bought my first Mooney...so I could fly from my home in Orlando to visit her in Virginia," said CarolAnn Garratt. "When my mother passed away, I knew I wanted to use my love of flying to help find a cure for this fatal disease. Carol and I hope that this flight will bring ALS TDI one step closer to developing a treatment so that no other family has to suffer from this devastating disease like ours did."

After CarolAnn lost her mother to ALS in 2002, she vowed to fly around the world to raise awareness and donations for the disease that took her mother's life. Like 90 percent of ALS patients, her mother passed away within five years of being diagnosed. One of Carol Foy's family members was also diagnosed last year.

Working closely with ALS Therapy Development Institute, the leading nonprofit working on a cure, this team is dedicated to finding effective treatments for those living with ALS, which affects a new family every 90 minutes in the US.

"We thank both CarolAnn and Carol for making it their mission to fight for a cause that is near and dear to their hearts as well as many others all over the world," said Steve Perrin, Chief Scientific Officer, ALS TDI. "Combined with our global efforts, it is this teamwork that will be the driving force for finding the cure."

The current world record, accredited by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale set in 1988, averaged a speed of 56.8 mph, including all stops for refueling. The pilot duo, CarolAnn and Carol, are planning an average speed of 120 mph with only nine stops for refueling.

If you would like to make a donation to support CarolAnn and Carol in Dash for a Cure, please visit their website. To date, StarPort Cambata Aviation in Stanford, Florida; Universal Weather and Aviation, Inc. in Houston, TX; and Scheyden Sunglasses have significantly contributed to make this a success.

The ALS Therapy Development Institute, based in Cambridge, Mass., operates the world's largest research and development program focused exclusively on ALS. The Institute has a staff of more than 30 scientists and research technicians, working on behalf of ALS patients to discover and advance novel therapeutics for treating, and ultimately curing, ALS.

The nonprofit biotechnology institute excels in identifying novel disease targets, discovering compounds that may act against these targets, and screening potential treatments for clinical development.

FMI: www.alsworldflight.com, www.als.net

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