ALS Research at UAMS Boosted by Paul Dunn Golf Classic

By Jon Parham

ALS patient Thomas May, chairman and chief executive officer of Simmons First National Corporation, gets ready to tee off
during the Paul Dunn Golf Classic.

May 25, 2011 | Now in its 11th year, the Paul Dunn Golf Classic has raised more than a quarter of a million dollars in support of research at UAMS seeking better treatments and a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

The tournament, held May 16 at the Maumelle Country Club, was held in memory of Dunn and others who have fought ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. More than $35,000 was raised this year, bringing it to about $280,000 to date raised to benefit research programs through the ALS Clinic and the J. Thomas May Center for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Research at UAMS.

“We’re just happy to do something that raises awareness of this disease, supports continued research and also remembers Paul,” said Brian Loeb, who along with several of Dunn’s friends and his widow, Kristi Acri, founded the tournament and organize it each year.

Loeb remembers a trip with Dunn to the 2000 Cotton Bowl to see the Arkansas Razorbacks play. Dunn told his friend he was slurring his words and didn’t know why. It was shortly after that trip that Dunn was diagnosed with the terminal neurological disease.

“This tournament was the first serious effort to raise funds for ALS research at UAMS and it’s exciting to see how it has grown,” said Stacy Rudnicki, M.D., a neurologist who treats ALS patients at UAMS, including Dunn.

Proceeds from the golf tournament have funded ALS clinical research under her direction, as well as the basic science work of John Crow, Ph.D., director of the ALS research center.

May, chairman and chief executive officer of Simmons First National Corporation in Pine Bluff and Simmons First National Bank, and some other ALS patients participated in the tournament. May greeted friends and other ALS patients before taking off for the first hole on his special golf cart. The cart’s seat swivels and lifts, allowing May to play golf.

Presenting sponsors of the event are Simmons First and the Spears Family, BNB Print Center & Bank and Business Solutions.