Happy St. Patrick’s Day from The Alpha-1 Foundation

Happy St. Patrick’s Day from the Alpha-1 Foundation

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated annually on March 17, the anniversary of St. Patrick’s death in the fifth century. Saint Patrick was a fifth-century Romano-British Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland. Known as the “Apostle of Ireland”, he is the primary patron saint of Ireland. The Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday for over 1,000 years. On St. Patrick’s Day, which falls during the Christian season of Lent, Irish families traditionally attend church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon.

Today, people of all backgrounds celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, especially throughout the United States, Canada and Australia. Although North America is home to the largest festivities, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated around the world in locations far from Ireland, including Japan, Singapore and Russia. Popular St. Patrick’s Day recipes include Irish soda bread, corned beef and cabbage and champ. In the United States, people often wear green on St. Patrick’s Day.

The Alpha-1 Foundation has been celebrating St. Patrick’s Day as a community since 2008. The 13th Annual Celtic Connection took place this past Saturday, March 13th as a completely virtual event for the first time. The event committee joined together to plan this outstanding Building Friends for a Cure (BFC) community fundraiser. Celtic Connection has become the largest BFC event through the outstanding support of event sponsors and the tenacity and creativity of a longstanding committee. The event celebrates St. Patrick’s Day each year and honors Irish heritage.

Prof. Gerry McElvaney joined the virtual event from Ireland and was interviewed by Richard Lovrich about St. Patrick’s Day and gave an insightful presentation about Alpha-1, the history of the Foundation and its ties to Ireland.  Click image below to view complete interview:

Prof. Noel “Gerry” McElvaney, MD, BCh, BAO, FRCPI, FRCPC, is Chairman of the Department of Medicine and Professor of Medicine in the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin, Ireland. Prof. McElvaney’s unit has a well-established track record in research in Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency and Cystic Fibrosis and their work on lung defenses has led to interactions with pharmaceutical companies interested in translational research. For example, in 1999 Beaumont Hospital was the first site worldwide for intravenous administration of transgenic alpha-1 antitrypsin to individuals with Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency. In 2003, Prof. McElvaney founded the Alpha One Foundation of Ireland and subsequently received funding from the Irish Department of Health and Children to set up an Alpha-1 research unit to further research into the condition. He also established the first targeted detection program and registry for individuals with Alpha-1 in Europe. Throughout his career, Prof. McElvaney has consistently demonstrated the benefits that can be achieved by proactively integrating research into policy and practice. His work focused on a specific genetic disorder called alpha 1 anti-trypsin deficiency (AATD) that leads to an increased risk of developing lung complications such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

It is estimated that 1 in 25 Irish individuals were found to be carriers for the gene responsible for the most severe form of Alpha-1, making the condition the most common fatal inherited lung condition in Ireland after cystic fibrosis. In its most severe form, Alpha-1 is estimated to affect more than 2,000 people nationally.

The Celtic Connection event brings in an old Irish element. The highlight each year is the presentation of the Shillelagh Award. The Shillelagh is a traditional Celtic weapon associated with Ireland, and the award symbolizes the battle that Alpha-1 doctors, researchers, and leadership wage against Alpha-1. The 2021 Shillelagh Award was presented to our COVID-19 Researchers and Frontline Workers. The amazing Alpha-1 researchers and frontline workers stood by our community and provided guidance to Alphas throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. They worked tirelessly on COVID-19 related research and, of course, held the hands of many Alphas in intensive care units across the world.

Thank you to our generous sponsors that made this virtual event possible: Event Sponsors: AlphaNet, CSL Behring and Grifols Celtic Champion Sponsors: Cisco, Presidio Cybersecurity and Gordon & Ruth Cadwgan Virtual Pot O’ Gold Sponsors: Ergonomic Group and Navin Haffty Lucky Charm Sponsor: Beam Therapeutics, Dicerna Pharmaceuticals and HealthNet Systems Consulting Inc.

A very special thank you to the Celtic Connection committee: Bob Healy, Julie Berry, Team Bravo, Dan Coffin, Kathi Coffin, Sheila Favazza, Siobhan Lestina, Richard Lovrich, Fred Walsh, Ginger Watkins and Rick White.

For more information on this year’s Celtic Connection event or to make a donation, please visit https://one.bidpal.net/celticconnection2021/welcome