Pleasanton Weekly

News - August 19, 2011

Safeway holds 10th annual campaign to support M.D.

Donations through Labor Day go to help people with neuromuscular diseases

by Jeb Bing

This month, Pleasanton-based Safeway Inc. is holding its 10th annual company-wide campaign to support the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

MDA works to develop treatments and assist people coping with neuromuscular diseases.

"We are honored and pleased to continue our association with one of the most highly regarded charitable causes in the world," said Larree Renda, executive vice president and chair of the Safeway Foundation. "MDA is a remarkable organization, funding more than 300 leading-edge research projects worldwide annually that are changing lives."

MDA works to combat neuromuscular diseases through basic and applied scientific investigation. It also offers local comprehensive programs of medical and support services and widespread professional and public health education.

Through Labor Day, Safeway, Vons, Pavilions, Dominick's, Randalls, Tom Thumb, Genuardi's, Carrs and Pak 'N Save stores in the U.S. and Canada will collect donations.

The Safeway Foundation will distribute the funds in their entirety to MDA and Muscular Dystrophy Canada (MDC). The company's U.S. retail stores will also participate in the "Make a Muscle, Make a Difference" program, which provides MDA with a portion of the proceeds of specially marked products purchased by Safeway customers.

While 2011 marks the 10th year Safeway has conducted a companywide fundraiser for MDA, the partnership goes back much further. In years past, individual stores collected donations through local grassroots fundraising and groups of employees volunteered by answering phones during the annual telethon. Over the years, Safeway has raised more than $58 million for muscular dystrophy charities. In addition to the company's participation in the National Telethon, Safeway employees from across the country will continue to participate in regional MDA telethons to bring attention to the cause.

The impact of the donations and dedication has been tremendous. In the last six months alone, MDA has reached the following landmarks with the help of Safeway's customers and employees:

* Launched the first clinical trial with a drug that specifically targets the genetic flaw in familial ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease;

* Gained FDA approval to initiate a clinical trial with the first drug designed to reverse the genetic flaw in Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a disease that causes the muscles to atrophy and waste away;

* Launched two projects designed to prevent debilitating side effects caused by long-term steroid therapy, currently the only approved drug regimen for certain neuromuscular diseases;

* Launched a clinical trial designed to optimize a gene therapy strategy for Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy, which most severely affects hip and shoulder muscles; and,

* Established multi-center clinical research networks that are engaged in cutting-edge clinical investigations to further improve the diagnosis and clinical management of individuals with these conditions.

Safeway spokeswoman Teena Massingill said Safeway dedicates each April and August to helping people with disabilities. The company uses in-store radio broadcasts to customers and employee video messages to communicate research breakthroughs and new programs that help millions of people with disabilities. Easter Seals and Special Olympics are among the organizations that receive the donations raised in April, with the August campaign dedicated to MDA and Muscular Dystrophy Canada (MDC).

Along with supporting people with disabilities, Safeway is also one of the largest corporate supporters of cancer charities, having raised nearly $170 million for breast cancer and prostate cancer research and treatment. In addition, the company contributes to a broad range of charitable and community programs and in 2010 raised or donated more than $200 million to education, hunger relief, health and human services and programs focused on assisting people with disabilities, including MDA.

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