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Scleroderma Foundation Announces New Chapter in State of Georgia

Georgia Chapter is Foundation's 23rd in the U.S.


DANVERS, MASS. (March 25, 2011) – The Scleroderma Foundation announced today that it has chartered a new chapter to cover the state of Georgia. This means more support for individuals with scleroderma and related diseases in the southern U.S.

The Georgia Chapter is the 23rd chapter for the Foundation and will have headquarters located in suburban Atlanta. The chapter will provide scleroderma patients and their families with support and educational resources, while raising funds for new research to find a cure and the cause of the autoimmune disease.

The new chapter is the result of one family’s determination to help people living with scleroderma as well as to educate the public about the disease after the death of one of its members. In 2009, the Basile family lost a sister and daughter, Kathleen Basile.

“Our goal is to help people with scleroderma and their families. There are so many people in Georgia that need a support system,” said Doreen Towhey, of Lilburn, Ga., the chapter’s co-president and Kathleen’s sister. “It isn’t just the patient that battles the disease. The entire family needs support to cope and manage scleroderma.”

“The chapter’s mission through fundraising is to provide support and education for patients and the people of Georgia, and since scleroderma has no known cause or cure, it is a disease that demands continued research. We want to fund research to find a cure,” said Towhey.

The new chapter’s Board of Directors are Doreen Towhey and Peggy Levengood, co-presidents; Evan Busman, vice president; Jim Walsh, treasurer; and Andrea Wetherington, secretary. Board members are Scott Morrison, Harriette Hines, Ann Basile, Richard Moore, Ocarina Witwer, Ann Campbell, Chuck Bonelli and Priscilla Moss.

The chapter’s Medical Advisory Board consists of Micah Fisher, M.D., and Gary Myerson, M.D. Dr. Fisher is the medical director at Emory University Hospital’s Medical Intensive Care Unit and associate director of the Pulmonary Hypertension Program at Emory University in Atlanta. Dr. Myerson is a rheumatologist at Northside Hospital and Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Atlanta. Dr. Myerson’s practice is currently treating more than 200 scleroderma patients in metro Atlanta.

With more than 2,300 members on the National Foundation’s database in Georgia, the state currently only has one support group that serves the Atlanta/Duluth area. The chapter hopes to start a second support group in Newnan, Ga., later this year.

The chapter’s website will be available Monday, April 4. For more information about the Scleroderma Foundation’s Georgia Chapter or to join, call Peggy Levengood at (770) 925-7037.


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