KANNAPOLIS, NC (WBTV) - Help for a debilitating disease that affects more than a half a million Americans. A Charlotte businessman on Thursday donated a million dollars to the North Carolina Research Campus toward work to finding a cure to multiple sclerosis.
This gift is the largest in the history of MS in the Carolinas. And it comes from theater mogul Herman Stone.. two of his children suffer from the disease.
But Thursday's announcement brings a universe of hope to one local little girl and her family.
The world first met Briana Landis three years ago when she appeared with Montel Williams on his daytime talk show. Williams himself has M.S. Briana one of the youngest ever to be diagnosed with the disease. She was honored on Montel's show for raising money for his foundation that supports M.S.
Today she and her parents were in the audience at the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis to celebrate another great M.S. benefactor.. Herman Stone of Charlotte..
"Raise a million dollars make your dream come true."
Stone, the former owner of Consolidated Theaters.. giving a million dollars to billionaire David Murdock's research campus.
"You're welcome at the lab any time."
Briana developed M.S. at age four when she started getting headaches.
Multiple Sclerosis interrupts the flow of information from the brain to the body and stops people from moving. Every hour in the U.S. someone new is diagnosed with MS.. an unpredictable often disabling disease of the central nervous system.
11 year old Briana takes shots every other day.. which helps keep the disease at bay.
"You get mad because you have to take shots and you just can't be like any other kid," she says.
"We will be running cutting edge scientific experiments..."
But today's announcement.. setting aside a huge sum of money to fund research into M.S. (technology's already in place in Kannapolis) is the news this family who lives in Kannapolis had been praying years for.
"Tears came to my eyes when I heard the stories about what they were talking about and how maybe there's more hope," said Brian Landis, Briana's father.
"We know that this doesn't mean necessarily a cure but it's certainly a lot closer than we ever imagined. It was an early Christmas present and answer to seven years of prayer," says Kathi Landis, Briana's mother.
A Duke University geneticist.. Dr. Simon Gregory will be working at the Research Campus in Kannapolis. He and members of his team have already identified a gene associated with M.S.
They don't know what the gene does or how it contributes to the disease.
But from what we heard today.. with this money and the technology.. they hope they can speed up what took them years to study before.
This businessman who donated a million dollars to MS.. encouraging others to get involved too?
They're calling the campaign "On the Shoulders of Giants".. The Carolina's Campaign to Cure MS.. they hope seed money from Herman Stone will challenge others.