Mark Richt helps raise more than $760K for Parkinson’s research

Proceeds will go to UGA’s Isakson Center for Neurological Disease Research

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by Andrea Lobo |

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Chick-fil-A Dawg Bowl 2023, hosted by former Bulldogs football coach Mark Richt, has raised more than $758,000 to support research on Parkinson’s disease at the University of Georgia (UGA).

Launched by a $500,000 donation from the Richt Family Foundation, all the proceeds will go to UGA’s Isakson Center for Neurological Disease Research.

The fundraiser featured a VIP bowling event on Oct. 18 that was joined by more than 1,330 donors who gave $35,000.

“I am very grateful to Chick-fil-A, Coach Richt, and the many generous donors who contributed to the university’s research efforts in these important areas over the past two weeks,” Jere W. Morehead, UGA’s president, said in a university news release.

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Taking a ‘bite out of’ Parkinson’s, Crohn’s diseases

The Richt Family Foundation is focused on raising awareness and funding for research on Parkinson’s disease and on Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel disease. The family has been affected by both diseases. Richt was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2021 and one of his granddaughters was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease six years earlier.

“My family and I want to sincerely thank the Bulldog Nation and all the donors who helped us take a bite out of Parkinson’s and Crohn’s,” Richt said. “I am so thankful to everyone who came out and supported in whatever way they could.”

The event was announced at UGA head football coach Kirby Smart’s press conference on Oct. 2. Donations were accepted before, during, and after the bowling tournament. A total of $761,842 was raised from 1,364 donations.

Viewers were able to livestream the event from home, as Richt, Kirby Smart, and former players David Pollack and Rennie Curran played at Showtime Bowling Alley in Athens, Georgia.

“Private support is essential to the kinds of cutting-edge research our faculty are conducting on Parkinson’s and related diseases, and the Chick-fil-A Dawg Bowl helps our researchers looking for new treatments and cures,” Morehead said.

At UGA, researchers such as Anumantha Kanthasamy, PhD,  are developing innovative treatments for Parkinson’s disease, as well as investigating a possible link to inflammatory gut diseases.

“Giving at this level can have a monumental impact on the research we are doing here at the university,” Kanthasamy said. “We are so grateful to the donors and the Richt family for everything they have done to support the Isakson Center.”

Kanthasamy’s research is focused on the cellular mechanisms underlying the disease processes of Parkinson’s, including dopaminergic therapy, alpha-synuclein aggregation, changes in gut microorganisms, and neuroinflammation. Researchers are also testing small molecule, peptide and probiotic therapeutics in animal models of the disease.