Weston man's idea has raised $500,000 for mental-impairment research
Published 3:40 pm, Thursday, April 14, 2011
A Weston man has been honored for helping to raise $500,000 over the past 14 years for research into the genetic disorder Fragile X Syndrome, the most common cause of inherited mental impairment.
Jon Pressman was honored by the FRAXA Research Foundation with its Champion's Award for raising the money through Patrick's PALS three-on-three basketball tournaments. The 15th annual tournament is scheduled June 4 in Boston.
The research group said Pressman started the Patrick's PALS tournament after boyhood friend Jim Vershbow's son, Patrick, was diagnosed with Fragile X in 1997. In addition to funding research, the tournaments have raised awareness of the disorder.
The gene abnormality is the most common cause of autism, among other disorders, FRAXA said, and there is no known cure. The effects of Fragile X Syndrome can range from learning disabilities to more severe cognitive or intellectual disabilities sometimes referred to as "mental retardation."
This year's three-on-three tournament will bring together 32 teams for a day of basketball and other activities,which aim to raise private donations for research.
Jim and Pamela Vershow's son was 10 months old when he was diagnosed with Fragile X. Pressman -- along with Bill Rome, Steve Savarese, Jim Marks and Scott Katz -- came up with the idea for Patrick's PALS after a night of brainstorming about how they could help.
"Jim and I met when we were 10 years-old, and for going on 40 years we've been close friends," Pressman said in a news release issued by the research group. "We went to high school together, we attended each other's weddings, we've celebrated important moments in each other's life. But when I found out that Patrick had Fragile X, I was at a loss to know what to do for one of my best friends."
Pressman recalled how Jim and Pamela Vershow became aware their son was behind the normal rate of development, they tried to learn as much as they could about the disorder. "If we can help other parents who might knowingly or unknowingly be facing the same situation, that means a lot," he said.
For more information or to donate to Patrick's PALS, visit: www.patrickspals3on3.org.