October 4, 2002
For immediate release
Heinz C. Prechter Fund for Manic Depression Raises $1.25 Million Creating the Largest Single Fund-Raising Event for Bipolar Disorder in U.S. History
U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Delivers Keynote Address
Dearborn, Michigan - October 4, 2002 - The Heinz C. Prechter Fund for Manic Depression raised over $1.2 million at its first gala dinner, surpassing all previous fund-raisers for manic depression. Waltraud "Wally" Prechter, founder and president of the fund made the announcement tonight at "The Cure Frontier: Gala Dinner" at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Dearborn, Michigan.
"We have achieved what has never been achieved before," said Prechter, "thanks to the generosity of our friends and supporters, we have raised $1,250,175 million to advance bipolar research. I am grateful to all our supporters for turning tonight's Cure Frontier Gala Dinner into the largest single fund-raising event for bipolar disorder in U.S. history."
Prechter, who earlier this year was appointed by President George W. Bush to the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, founded the non-profit Heinz C. Prechter Fund for Manic Depression to advance breakthrough medical research to help develop cures for bipolar disorder, the disease that took her husband's life last year.
"We have great reason to hope as we face the future. The progress we are making in combating bipolar disorder is real," said U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tommy G. Thompson. "Wally's contribution to this effort has been, and continues to be tremendous. She is a true profile in courage, and all Americans are in her debt."
"Tonight is a historic event. It marks the pursuit of a new frontier-to find cures for the illness that took Heinz and many others from us. Heinz was like an older brother to me," said Michigan Governor John Engler who served as the event's master of ceremonies.
More than 850 business, political and community leaders attended the sold-out event. Proceeds will support breakthrough medical research to help develop cures for manic depression.
"This is a wonderful testimony to Heinz Prechter, the friendships he built and the lives he touched," said Stephan Koller, Executive Director of the fund. "He continues to make a difference even beyond his passing."
Industrialist and philanthropist Heinz C. Prechter fell victim to suicide on July 6, 2001, after battling intermittent bouts of manic depression for most of his adult life.
Manic depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain and marked by sometimes extreme changes in mood, thought, energy and behavior. It affects an estimated 2.7 million adult Americans. As debilitating as blindness or paraplegia, manic depression adds significantly to the overall economic burden of mental disorders of $170 billion a year in health care expenditures and economic loss due to lost productivity, absenteeism, and premature death. An estimated 730,000 Americans attempt suicide every year with close to 30,000 of them completing the horrific act, that is one suicide every 17 minutes. Nearly 70 percent of suicides are depression related.