The connection between artist Andrew Wyeth’s most famous painting, Christina’s World, and Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT), a group of inherited disorders of the peripheral nervous system, will unfold as the Charcot-Marie-Tooth Association (CMTA) hosts its 8th Annual CMTA Gala to raise funds for clinical trials of new potential treatments.
The event will take place 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 24 at the Essex House on Central Park South in Manhattan.
Speakers at the event include Christina Baker Kline, author of “A Piece of the World,” a book about Christina Olson, the subject of Christina’s World, and Dr. Michael E. Shy, chair of the CMTA’s clinical expert board.
Christina’s World hangs in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The 1948 work by Wyeth shows a young woman in a field. She looks toward a bleak farmhouse in the distance, her legs bent at an odd angle beneath her as she props herself up on slender arms.
Olson lived on the farm pictured in the painting in Cushing, Maine. She had a muscular disorder and regularly crawled across the farm without a wheelchair. Wyeth first met her in 1939 and studied and painted her several times throughout her life. Olson died in 1968 without ever receiving an official medical diagnosis. Recently, a medical expert declared that Wyeth’s model probably had CMT.
Starting with Olson’s experience in the early 1900s, Kline and Shy will take gala attendees on a journey through the past, present, and future of CMT and discuss the reasons for hope for the 2.8 million people estimated to live with the disease worldwide.
Kline and Shy will also present the CMTA’s Strategy to Accelerate Research (STAR) initiative and its progress this year. More progress on a potential treatment for CMT has been made in the past year than ever before. Studies in two rodent models of CMT1A not only stopped the progression of the disease, but also showed improvement in some symptoms. Now, funds are needed to move into clinical trials.
CMTA has started the “CMT1A $200,000 Challenge Grant” to match every dollar donated to up to $200,000. A donation to the CMT1A Challenge Grant will go directly to support the research team working on advancing these clinical trials.
Tickets for the 8th Annual CMTA Gala start at $500 and can be purchased on CMTA’s website. If you would like to support CMTA’s STAR initiative but cannot attend the gala, you can make a donation online.
Visit CMTA’s Mission and History page to learn more about the organization.