Broadway’s Best Gather To Raise Funds And Awareness For The Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation

Anything Goes’ Julie Halston, Robert Creighton, and Surprise Guest Joel Grey Join Legendary Belter Darlene Love for Second Annual Broadway Belts for PFF!

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NEW YORK, February 28, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- With honors ranging from the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame to the Tony Awards, Broadway’s best performers gathered Monday night to raise awareness of the rare disease, pulmonary fibrosis, and honor the memory of Associated Press theater critic, Michael Kuchwara. Hosted by award-winning actress and devoted Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF) advocate Julie Halston, Broadway Belts for PFF! returned to Birdland in New York City for a second successful year. The event raised almost $50,000 to benefit the Foundation.

Listen to Howard 100 News feature on Broadway Belts for PFF!

Sirius Satellite Radio’s Seth Rudetsky opened the show with an amusing monologue about belting and his favorite belters, including last year’s surprise guest Liza Minnelli. Broadway stars showcased their belting abilities under the musical direction of Jesse Kissel and returning director Carl Andress. The all-star cast included: Tony nominees Adam Pascal (Memphis) and Andrew Rannells (The Book of Mormon), Robert Creighton (Anything Goes), Lindsay Mendez (Godspell), Betsy Wolfe (Encores! Merrily We Roll Along), Heidi Blickenstaff (Now. Here. This., [title of show]), and Julia Murney (Queen of the Mist/Wicked). In a touching moment of remembrance, theater critic Adam Feldman took the stage and gave a heartfelt tribute to his friend and colleague, Michael Kuchwara.

The evening’s surprise guest was famed Joel Grey, currently starring as Moonface Martin in the Broadway revivial of Anything Goes. He joined the stage with fellow Anything Goes cast member Robert Creighton to sing a duet of “Give My Regards to Broadway” and then an impromptu rendition of “Wilkommen” from his Tony Award
and Oscar Award winning role as the Master of Ceremonies in Cabaret. The evening culminated with the spectacular Darlene Love delighting the audience with “Today I Met the Man I’m Going to Marry” and “I Know Where I Have Been.” The entire cast joined Ms. Love on stage for an all-star, grand finale of the “Da Doo Ron Ron.”

“The success of Broadway Belts for PFF! is a testament to the hard work of Julie Halston and her amazing team,” said the PFF’s Chief Operating Officer, Patti Tuomey. “Their efforts amplify the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation’s mission, increasing awareness on Broadway and beyond. By raising almost $50,000 through this event, Julie makes our goal of finding a cure that much more feasible.”

Julie Halston, currently starring in Anything Goes, became the leading spokesperson for the PFF after her husband, broadcaster Ralph Howard, received a lung transplant due to pulmonary fibrosis. Ms. Halston hopes that the awareness created by Broadway Belts for PFF! will assist others affected by the disease.

“Five years ago, I had never even heard of pulmonary fibrosis. First my husband was diagnosed and then I lost my close friend Michael to the disease,” said Halston. “Now, I want to make sure everyone knows about the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, so that no one with the disease has to go through this alone. Together we can raise awareness and fund the research that will bring us closer to finding a cure.”

The PFF’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Daniel M. Rose, MD, emphasized the importance of funding research, as well as raising awareness. “With no FDA-approved treatment or cure for pulmonary fibrosis, funding research is a vital element of the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation’s efforts,” said Dr. Rose. “Over the last ten years, pulmonary fibrosis research has greatly advanced and the Foundation has an increasingly clear picture of what needs to be done to support researchers, doctors, and patients.”

The Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation would like to thank this year’s Broadway Belts for PFF! Presenting Sponsor, the Doug and Gay Lane Charitable Foundation and Director’s Circle Sponsor, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. The Foundation would also like to thank the following Broadway Partner Sponsors: Margo Lion; The Nederlander Organization; Daryl Roth; Richard Rothberg and Gersowitz, Libo and Korek, P.C. ESQS; and Thomas Schumacher.

All funds raised by the event will go toward the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation’s Michael Kuchwara Fund for Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Research, Education, and Advocacy in honor of the late Associated Press theater critic and reporter. Mr. Kuchwara passed away from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis in May of 2010.

For more information on the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, or to make a donation, please visit www.pulmonaryfibrosis.org.

About the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation
The mission of the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation is to help find a cure for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), advocate for the pulmonary fibrosis community both locally and in Washington, D.C., promote disease awareness, and provide a compassionate environment for patients and their families. The PFF collaborates with physicians, organizations, patients, and caregivers worldwide. December 1-3, 2011 the PFF hosted its first biennial international scientific conference, IPF Summit 2011: From Bench to Bedside, in Chicago; PFF Summit 2013 will be held December 5-7, 2013. For more information visit www.pulmonaryfibrosis.org or call 888-733-6741.

About Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis
According to the National Institutes of Health, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a condition in which over a period of time the lung tissue becomes thickened, stiff, and scarred. The development of the scar tissue is called fibrosis. As the lung tissue becomes scarred and thicker, the lungs lose their ability to transfer oxygen into the bloodstream. As a result, the brain and other organs don't receive the oxygen they need. In some cases, doctors can determine the cause of the fibrosis, but in most cases, there is not a known cause. When there is no known etiology for the fibrosis (and certain pathologic criteria are met) the disease is called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis or IPF. IPF affects approximately 200,000 individuals in the US, and the annual mortality is estimated to be 40,000. At present there are no FDA-approved medical therapies.