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Golf classic a hole in one for charities
SNOQUALMIE _ The power of competition between two
football coaches can yield great games, but this past weekend, the efforts of
two former coaches produced greenbacks for charity on the greens of the
TPC Snoqualmie Ridge Golf Club.
Former University of Washington football coach Jim Lambright
and former Notre Dame football coach Ara Parseghian co-hosted the second
annual Jim Lambright Medical Foundation Gala and Golf Classic on
Sunday and Monday.
The pair raised more than $340,000 to fight a disease
called Niemann-Pick Type C (NP-C) that affects both coaches' families and
an unknown number of people.
A dinner and auction was held Sunday night. The golf classic
began Monday morning, and despite the rain, approximately 155 people teed off
Many local and national celebrities participated in the events,
including former Husky coaches Don James, Jim Owens, and Marv
Harshman; Washington State University coach Mike Price and University of
Arizona coach Dick Tomey. A few entertainers were also there, including
Ryan Stiles of "The Drew Carey Show."
"I think it's a wonderful cause and it's nice to see this many people
turn out to be a part of it," Jim Owens said. "It's great that this diverse
group would contribute their time and it's important to have someone
working full time on this [research] who is deeply committed to finding a cure."
Lambright's two sons, Brad and Bart, both in their late 30s, and
Ara Parseghian's grandchildren have the disease and each established a
foundation to raise money for research. Lambright's foundation was
established three years ago.
Currently, there is no cure and no treatment for NP-C.
The disease is a rare and fatal genetic condition that causes
progressive deterioration of the nervous system and has been called the
"children's version of Alzheimer's." Although
the condition is more common in children, adults can also be afflicted.
"The devastation that this disease can cause is
heartbreaking," Lambright said.
People with NP-C are unable to metabolize cholesterol properly, so
it collects in the liver, spleen and brain cells, causing damage to the
nervous system and deterioration of the body.
"Two things about it it's progressive and it's fatal," Lambright
said, explaining that when his older son was diagnosed with NP-C, the family
was shocked when they were told that there were no treatments or medication
and there was nothing doctors could do to slow it down.
"It creates great drive in you to get answers," he said.
Gradually the patient's IQ also decreases. Lambright said that
since people usually don't frequently test their IQ, that symptom is difficult
"One of the things that can happen is that you don't know what's
happening to you or why you're changing," he said. "You can't pay your
bills, and as you go along, you become embarrassed about what you can't
do. Then [you become] angry to protect your pride."
Proceeds from the Gala and Golf Classic, which exceeded last
year's figure of $250,000, will go to the University of Washington School
of Medicine's new neurogenetics division. Dr. Tom Bird, who was part
of the team that discovered the Alzheimer's gene, directs the
division and is searching for a cure.
So far, the most promising lines of research involve genetic therapy
and cholesterol metabolism. NP-C is thought to be related to other
diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, and the university's research
could help find a cure for those, as well.
Lambright said researchers have no idea how many people have
NP-C and the adults who have it probably don't know, especially if the
disease is in its early stages.
Because the disease is not widely known, Lambright said he wanted
to choose a special place to hold his charity event. He explained that he
selected Snoqualmie Ridge Golf Club because he loves the Valley, and the
Salish Lodge and Snoqualmie Falls are popular destination spots.
Even though he lives in Marysville, Lambright thinks of
the Valley as home because he said he enjoys the area's natural beauty
and community spirit.
"We would love to make this [his foundation] a community-wide
point of pride," Lambright said.
Anyone who would like to donate time, money or ideas to the
organization should call (800) 426-3660.