Defeating Dystonia

Defeating Dystonia

6th annual event to raise awareness and research funds for Dystonia.

A scene from last year’s fundraiser supporting Dystonia research.

A scene from last year’s fundraiser supporting Dystonia research.

— Donna Driscoll is determined to win the fight of her life — against the life-altering disorder, Dystonia. For six years, the Potomac resident and her husband Tom have organized a golf and tennis tournament dedicated to raising Dystonia awareness as well as garnering funds for research to cure and prevent the neurological syndrome and movement disorder that she was inflicted with 10 years ago.

She had to retire from teaching, quit playing tennis and can no longer walk her dog around the block. She has difficulty in her daily living — such tasks as grocery shopping and navigating around her home are difficult and very tiring. There is presently no cure — but Driscoll states with resolve, “I am going to beat Dystonia. Researchers are making great strides and I am determined to raise enough money to solve the mysteries of this disease and find a cure. Through the generosity of caring individuals and businesses, our event earned $25,000 for the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation (DMRF) last year, and we are hoping to raise even more this year.”

The 6th Annual Dystonia Golf and Tennis Classic will be held on Monday, Sept. 24 at Bretton Woods Country Club, 15700 River Road, Potomac. The event will include a golf tournament, tennis tournament, awards reception, banquet, entertainment by the 19th Street Band, and silent and live auctions. Some of the auction items include two airline tickets to a U.S. destination, two nights at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas with tickets to Shania Twain (recently diagnosed with Dystonia in her vocal chords), vacations in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Hollywood, Fla. and Ft. Myers, a wine auction and rugs by Parvizian. Creative gift baskets have been donated by corporations and supporters. People who cannot make the golf/tennis event are encouraged to come for the dinner and festivities.

Dr. Mark Hallett, senior investigator at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will be presented with the Humanitarian Award. Hallett is currently chief of the Medical Neurology Branch and chief of the Human Motor Control Section. Hallett’s award-winning research into Dystonia has included clinical trials and the search for physiological insights into therapies.

According to Janet Hieshetter, executive director of DMRF, “The Dystonia Medical Research Foundation is pleased to honor Dr. Hallett and recognizes the contributions of this very special man who has not only been a major contributor to dystonia research, but who is one of the most compassionate, caring physicians working in this community.” Hallett was one of the first doctors to help Donna Driscoll after her initial diagnosis. He is world-renown in the area of movement disorders.

According to the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation website “Dystonia is the third most common movement disorder following essential tremor and Parkinson’s disease. It is a disorder that causes the muscles in the body to contract or spasm involuntarily. These muscle contractions force the body into twisting, repetitive movements and abnormal postures. It may affect a specific part of the body such as the legs, arms, neck, face, eyes and vocal cords or affect several major muscle groups simultaneously. There are multiple forms of dystonia and dozens of diseases and conditions include dystonia as a major symptom. It affects no fewer than 300,000 men, women and children in the U.S. and Canada.”


Photo Contributed

Tom and Donna Driscoll

Donna and Tom Driscoll want to be certain that the public is aware that they can sponsor a wounded warrior to play in the tournament. Donna Driscoll said, “Our servicemen and women are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with traumatic brain injuries. Dystonia is brought on by trauma to the brain – and now the Department of Defense realizes that more and more servicemen and women are returning with this disorder. Golf is healing to our servicemen and women, so we are hoping that people will step up to sponsor a wounded warrior to play.”

Some of the funds from this year’s event will be dedicated to sending a family with a child diagnosed with Dystonia to Children’s Advocacy Day in Chicago, sponsored by the DMRF. Registration for the golf tournament will begin at 10 a.m. and for the tennis tournament at 1 p.m. The awards reception will be held at 5 p.m., and the banquet will begin at 6 p.m. The cost for golf is $250, tennis, $110 and banquet/entertainment $100. For more information or to register, contact Tom Driscoll at 202-285-9103, by email, or go to