For nearly 17 years, Maryann Macey has volunteered with the Blue Bird Circle Clinic for Pediatric Neurology at Texas Children’s Hospital – an opportunity that she describes as very rewarding.
“It is amazing to see all of the progress our organization has made in advancing research to help our physicians at the Blue Bird Circle Clinic diagnose and treat patients with neurological diseases,” Macey said. “It is an honor to be a Blue Bird volunteer and work with such an outstanding group of women.”
On February 6, Macey and 100 Blue Bird members including many of Texas Children’s employees, staff and leaders, attended a special luncheon at the Pavilion for Women to celebrate the Blue Bird Circle’s 95th birthday. The event included a $1.9 million check presentation from the Blue Bird Circle to Texas Children’s and Baylor College of Medicine. A large portion of this gift will support neuroscience research and training.
Since 1998, the Blue Bird Circle has supported the Clinic for Pediatric Neurology at Texas Children’s with millions of dollars in grants, as well as thousands of volunteer hours. Blue Bird volunteers devote countless hours at the Clinic and The Blue Bird Circle Resale Shop which has helped to raise awareness in the community about pediatric neurological disorders and highlight the incredible work being done at Texas Children’s to improve the quality of life for neurology patients.
“The words, “Blue Bird Circle,” are synonymous with its members’ generosity, volunteerism, commitment and dedication,” said Texas Children’s CEO Mark A. Wallace. “Members of the Blue Bird Circle have been the catalyst for so much of what has happened in pediatric neurology in the past 20 years. The care we provide, the research we conduct because of the Blue Birds benefit the patients we serve here and children with neurological conditions all over the world.”
During the luncheon, Dr. Gary Clark, Chief of Neurology and Developmental Neuroscience, spoke about the tremendous growth of the neuroscience program at Texas Children’s and shared examples of the research progress that has been made through our partnership with the Blue Bird Circle. To treat patients with an enzyme deficiency in the form of Batten disease, Texas Children’s is one of the few sites that provides therapy to these patients by surgically injecting the synthesized enzyme directly into the brain thereby halting this degenerative form of Batten disease. Texas Children’s also is using novel approaches to treat patients with spinal muscular atrophy, a disease of the nervous system where the spinal cord degenerates due to defects in the SMN1 gene. The treatment involves injecting a DNA molecule into the spinal fluid that turns latent gene into an effective one that makes the deficient protein.
“We are contemplating similar treatments for Angelman and Rhett syndromes,” Clark said. “We are so grateful to Texas Children’s Blue Bird Circle Research Center in collaboration with the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children’s for helping us make these research breakthroughs possible, and I am excited about what the future holds for pediatric neurology.”
Guest speakers at the event also included Dr. Charles Gay, medical director of Neurology at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, and Dr. Robert Zeller, medical director of the Blue Bird Circle Clinic for Pediatric Neurology. Texas Children’s Chief of Palliative Care Dr. Tammy Kang delivered the keynote address on the interdisciplinary palliative care program and how it supports patients and their families.
Prior to the luncheon, the Blue Bird members met with neurosurgeon Dr. Daniel Curry and Chief of Critical Care Dr. Lara Shekerdemian to tour different sections of the Legacy Tower which will open on May 22.
For more information about Blue Bird Circle, click here.