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Lobbyists, Lawmakers Aim to Crush Crippling Disease

Anti-Duchenne muscular dystrophy crusader Joel Wood can’t force all of Congress to come around to his way of thinking regarding the need for more funding and research to wipe the life-threatening illness off the face of the planet. But he can keep chipping away at the problem — as he has for the past 14 years — one spectacular gathering at a time.  

(Foundation to Eradicate Duchenne, Inc.)
(Foundation to Eradicate Duchenne, Inc.)

Wood and his wife, Dana, have made it their mission to see the degenerative disorder purged from the human condition ever since their son, James, was diagnosed with DMD in May 2000.  

The duo intends to keep up the good fight Tuesday evening via their 14th annual “Dining Away Duchenne” fundraiser , a gourmet taste-around scheduled to take place in the North Hall of Eastern Market from 6 to 9 p.m.  

Tickets for the event, which benefits the Woods’ non-profit Foundation to Eradicate Duchenne , start at $250. Per Joel, the free form “dinner” — “We try to structure it as a come-and-go, cocktail-party-type event,” he explained via email — typically attracts several hundred guests. Attendees can expect to nibble on nosh provided by Morton’s The Steakhouse, The Occidental, The Pig , the Bistro Bis/Vidalia/Woodward Table family of restaurants, Ristorante Tosca/Posto, Acqua al 2, Bayou Bakery , The Liberty Tavern, Oyamel, Mandu, Bangkok Golden/Thip Khao, Sixth Engine ,  Cashion’s Eat Place, Hank’s Oyster Bar, Rappahannock Oyster Co., a la Lucia, Rasika, Acadiana, and Teddy and the Bully Bar.  

Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., has helped champion the Woods’ cause since 2001 (he sponsored legislation pushing for broader research during his time in the House), an enduring affiliation that has earned him honorary event chairman status. “We call him our permanent ‘chairman’ — real pit bull for the cause,” Joel said of Wicker’s unwavering support.  

Another 80-odd occupants of the House and Senate are listed as host committee members (Joel estimates around three dozen were on hand last year). The organization will this year honor sympathetic solons Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and Rep. Eliot L. Engel, D-N.Y.  

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