Pleasanton Weekly

- September 9, 2011

Safeway contributes $10.4 million to MDA

Pleasanton-based company raises $68 million in 10-year campaign

by Jeb Bing

Pleasanton-based Safeway Inc. customers and employees have raised $10.4 million for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, funding millions of dollars in research and for supporting MDA clinical care.

Safeway Executive Vice President Larree Renda presented National Youth Chairman Luke Christie with the check during the MDA Labor Day Telethon in Las Vegas on Sunday.

Including this year's contributions, the extended Safeway family has raised more than $68 million to the Muscular Dystrophy Association during its 10-year company-wide partnership with MDA.

Safeway's commitment to MDA is making lives better for children and adults who have neuromuscular diseases, CEO, President and Telethon Executive Producer Jerry Weinberg said.

"Because of the generosity of Safeway Inc.'s employees and their customers, MDA is the vanguard of state-of-the-art neuromuscular research, moving us ever closer to innovative treatments," Wienberg said. "Safeway's remarkable support for the families that MDA serves is deeply appreciated."

Those contributions ensure continual support of international neuromuscular disease research to find treatments and cures for the 43 diseases that MDA covers.

"We are infinitely grateful to each and every customer for their support and their commitment to helping MDA eradicate some of the most debilitating diseases that face medical science," 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."

In 2011 alone, Safeway customer and employee support has propelled MDA-funded research to achieve life-changing results:

* Enabled MDA to provide financial assistance for the start of the first placebo-controlled clinical trial in the U.S. of eteplirsen, an exon skipping drug that may be effective for some boys who have Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The trial began Aug. 18, in Columbus, Ohio. A British trial of the drug shows the compound is safe and that it can significantly increase production of the needed dystrophin protein.

* 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.

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