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University of Iowa Foundation Release


April 24, 2007

Gift Provides Relief For Huntington's Disease Patients, Families at UI

At the University of Iowa Huntington's Disease Center of Excellence, patients and their families will find it easier to cope with the illness, thanks to a $50,000 gift commitment to the UI Foundation from Midge Toole of Des Moines.

Toole established the permanently endowed Shields Family Patient Care Fund to help improve the quality of life of those who are suffering from Huntington's disease, a progressive neurodegenerative disease that slowly impairs one's ability to think clearly, maintain control over emotions and move in a coordinated manner. Toole named the Shields Fund for her maternal family; her grandmother, uncle and cousin, all with the last name of Shields, died of Huntington's disease. Toole's friends have also contributed to the fund.

The Shields Fund will help the center, a unit of UI Hospitals and Clinics, offer to patients in need medical services such as medication trials, genetic testing and therapeutic treatments; provide specialized tools such as eating utensils, computer equipment and walkers; and purchase supplies for support groups.

"I want to help people with Huntington's disease preserve their dignity," Toole said. "The Shields Fund will give patients and their families much-needed assistance as they struggle with this terrible illness. I'm very happy to make this gift, and I hope others will join me in supporting Huntington's disease patients."

Henry Paulson, M.D., Ph.D., co-director of the Huntington's Disease Center of Excellence, said Toole's generosity offers hope for families.

"As an inherited condition affecting, on average, half of all the people in a family that carries the gene, Huntington's disease can devastate the social and financial well-being of affected families," said Paulson, a professor in the Department of Neurology in the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine. "Midge Toole's gift will allow our center to provide state-of-the-art care for patients, regardless of their ability to pay for a test, medication or support services. It is wonderful that she directed it to the immediate needs of the patients and families."

The Huntington's Disease Center of Excellence is a multidisciplinary center at UI Hospitals and Clinics that provides medical, psychological, social, genetic and educational services to the Huntington's disease community. Many services and opportunities are offered for individuals affected by, or at risk of, Huntington's disease and for those who care for them. For more information, visit the center's web site at

Those wishing to contribute to the Shields Fund may contact Tori Erickson, the UI Foundation's associate director of development for UI Hospitals and Clinics, toll free at 800-648-6973 or by e-mail at

The UI acknowledges the UI Foundation as the preferred channel for private contributions that benefit all areas of the university. For more information about the UI Foundation, visit its web site at

STORY SOURCE: UI Foundation, P.O. Box 4550, Iowa City, Iowa 52244-4550

CONTACT: Tori Erickson, associate director of development, UI Hospitals and Clinics, 319-335-3305 or 800-648-6973, Writer: Nic Arp.

A high-resolution image of Midge Toole is available:

A web-quality image also is available: