Fox, Ali Fight for Research Funds
Michael J. Fox and Muhammad Ali lobbied Congress on Wednesday for more research funding for Parkinson's disease, the progressive neurological disorder that destroys the body's ability to function and afflicts one million Americans, including the athlete and the actor, reports PEOPLE. At Wednesday's hearing held by the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Subcommittee, Fox, 40, told panel members that the research successes of his own foundation, the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, point to the need for increased government spending. "Understanding of the brain and of neurological disorders is advancing at a staggering pace, moving to the possibility of repairing the brain and restoring lost function. The time has come when the brain is no longer just a place for research. It is a place for cures." Ali's wife, Lonnie, 45, who spoke on his behalf, accompanied the champ, 60, who, like Fox, suffers from the disease, to the hearing. "Parkinson's is the fight of Muhammad's life," she said. "He's had it for over 20 years . . . If you've ever looked at a fight tape of Muhammad, or an interview or a documentary, you know how he lit up the screen and how he loved the camera. Now you see him sitting here with his eyes closed. It's not because he's trying to block you out. It's because Parkinson's has made him photophobic to light." Still, the session was fused with guarded optimism, and Fox, who was first diagnosed in 1991, said that a cure is near. "The promise is so real," he said, "and the need is so real and the urgency is real and we really feel we can get this done."
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