Media contacts:
Janet Christenbury, 404/727-8599,
Kathi Ovnic Baker, 404/727-9371,
March 20, 2003


Emory Patient Raises Money to Support the Emory Ataxia Center and Ataxia Research

The Emory Ataxia Center and George "Chip" Wilmot, MD, assistant professor of neurology at Emory and director of the center, will receive a significant donation from an Emory patient, following a fundraiser in an effort to find a cure for ataxia. The check will be presented by the patient on Thursday, March 20 at 2 p.m. at the Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta, 75 14th Street NE, Atlanta.

Ataxia refers to a group of neurological disorders that progressively destroys muscle coordination. As a result, patients with ataxia cannot use their legs and arms effectively and often end up dependent upon a wheelchair. Other symptoms may include slurred speech, swallowing difficulties and visual problems.

Ataxia patient James Curtis was diagnosed with the condition at age eight. He is 31-years-old now. James began seeking treatment from Dr. Wilmot and the Emory Ataxia Center about seven years ago after traveling internationally to search for medical care.

Last month, James took on a fundraising project to raise money for the center and future ataxia research by holding an event called "Swimming for Ataxia," in association with the Pace Academy Swim Team. Amazingly, James was able to raise $51,000 in gifts, pledges and in-kind contributions from the swim. An avid swimmer and alumni of Pace, James swam 100 laps during the event, as did the Pace swimmers.

"I think itís a great example of what one person can do," says Dr. Wilmot, the only neurologist specializing in ataxia in Georgia and one of the few experts in the Southeast. "Jamesí dedication to the cause really made a big impact on this fundraiser. And I think this project was a real tribute to his father, who worked very hard to support ataxia research but unfortunately died last year."

Dr. Wilmot says the funding will go towards several pilot projects for ataxia, both in the laboratory and in clinical research trials. The Emory Ataxia Center is committed to increasing public awareness of the disease while advancing research and providing top-notch care to patients with ataxia.

Return to March Index

For more general information on The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center
call Health Sciences Communication's Office at 404-727-5686,
or send e-mail to

Copyright © Emory University, 2001. All Rights Reserved.