Montel, Leeza Take Woes to Washington
In just the latest parade of celebrities to hit Capitol Hill, TV hosts Montel Williams and Leeza Gibbons went to Washington this week to ask for help with medical research, PEOPLE reports.
In Gibbons' case, the visit was part of keeping a promise to her mother, Diane, that she would continue to help raise awareness about Alzheimer's disease, which afflicted her mother in 1999, when she was 63.
"We want (lawmakers) to encourage an environment that fosters competition and innovation," Gibbons, 45, said in a press conference held by pharmaceutical firms at the U.S. Capitol. "We want research because we need pioneering of new drugs." She also pointed out the need for "breakthroughs" and "hope."
Williams, 46, who himself suffers from Multiple Sclerosis, joined in to urge Congress to continue patent protection and to support further research.
Said an emotional Williams: "I ran out of here a couple of minutes ago based on my illness ... I will trip my way up the hallways and try to hide it from you so you can't see. I will continue to walk every day, every second of my day, in pain. I'm in pain right now. I was in pain when I got up this morning. I'll be in pain later. But because of my medication, I'm learning how to try to control that pain."
Said Gibbons: "The biggest thing for me now is struggling to fight the image of this vacant, broken woman who is not my mother but who has been imprisoned by this disease. I don't want that image to overtake the loving, nurturing, funny, vibrant lady that brought me up."
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