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Broadway's Best Gather To Raise Funds And Awareness For The Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation

Julie Halston, Debbie Gravitte, Max von Essen, Emily Bergyl, Robert Creighton, Klea Blackhurst, Emma Hunton, and Edward Watts

Join Legendary Belter Linda Lavin for the Third Annual Broadway Belts for PFF!

NEW YORK, Feb. 26, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With honors ranging from the Golden Globes to the Tony Awards, Broadway's best performers gathered Monday night to raise awareness of the rare disease, pulmonary fibrosis (PF), and honor the memory of Associated Press theater critic, Michael Kuchwara. Hosted by award-winning actress and devoted Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF) advocate Julie Halston, Broadway Belts for PFF! returned to Birdland in New York City for a third successful year.  The event raised almost $70,000 to benefit the Foundation.

Broadway stars showcased their belting abilities under the musical direction of Jesse Kissel and returning director Carl Andress.  The all-star cast included: Tony winners Linda Lavin ( Broadway Bound) and Debbie Gravitte ( Jerome Robbins Broadway ), Emily Bergyl ( Cat on a Hot Tin Roof), Klea Blackhurst (York Theatre's Happy Hunting), Max von Essen ( Evita), Robert Creighton ( The Mystery of Edwin Drood ), Emma Hunton ( Spring Awakening), and Edward Watts (Encores! It's A Bird… It's A Plane…It's Superman). 

The evening's highlights included Lavin and Gravitte's original performances of their showstopping Broadway numbers – "You've Got Possibilities" from It's A Bird…It's A Plane…It's Superman and "Mr. Monotony" from Jerome Robbins Broadway ; and the premiere of a new song from the Broadway-bound musical Chasing The Song called "Come Back When You're a Man," sung by Gravitte and Emma Hunton.

" Broadway Belts for PFF! has raised almost $160,000 to fund research and generated significant awareness for a rare disease," said the PFF's President and Chief Operating Officer, Patti Tuomey. "We are so thankful to Julie Halston, D. Michael Dvorchak, Ed Windels, and Sue Frost for their efforts in producing such an amazing evening and for contributing so much to the PF community." 

Broadway's Julie Halston became the leading spokesperson for the PFF after her husband, broadcaster Ralph Howard, received a lung transplant due to pulmonary fibrosis.  Ms. Halston hopes that the awareness created by Broadway Belts for PFF! will assist others affected by the disease.

"I want to make sure everyone knows about the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, so that no one with pulmonary fibrosis has to go through this alone," said Halston.  "First my husband was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis then we lost our friend Michael Kuchwara to the disease. I am thankful to my dear friends who give their time and talent year after year to help raise awareness and fund the research that will bring us closer to finding a cure."

The PFF's Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Directors, Daniel M. Rose, MD, emphasized the importance of bringing together the PF community that now includes the stars of Broadway, "This event brought together patients, caregivers, transplant recipients, physicians, financial supporters, and major pharmaceutical companies to bring awareness and raise funds for a rare disease with no FDA-approved treatment and no cure," said Dr. Rose.  "It is important to our mission that we foster this type of PF community interaction to get a clear picture of what needs to be done to support researchers, doctors, and patients."

The Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation would like to thank this year's Broadway Belts for PFF! Director's Circle Sponsors, the Doug and Gay Lane Charitable Foundation and InterMune, Inc.; Broadway Partner Sponsors, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and the Daryl and Steven Roth Foundation; and Ensemble Member Sponsors, Boehringer Ingelheim, Canaccord Genuity, and the Nederlander Organization.  The Foundation would also like to thank the following Chorus Line Sponsors: Dohmen; Mike and Donna Henderson; Nora and Richard Johnson; Michelle Harmon-Madsen and Ken Madsen; Chase Hutt and Patti Schoffer; Major Robert C. Dopher, USMC, Retired, Memorial Fund; PF Patients from the Pacific Northwest; Robert and Patricia Ross; Richard and Davida Rothberg; Wendy and Neil Scheer; Thomas Schumacher; and Dave Steffy.

All funds raised at the event will go toward the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation's Michael Kuchwara Fund for Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Research, Education, and Advocacy in honor of the late Associated Press theater critic and reporter; Mr. Kuchwara passed away from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis in May of 2010. 

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