About 100 Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation donors received a closer glimpse last week at the science their gifts make possible.
The annual gathering of OMRF’s Loyal Donors Society engaged in the scientific equivalent of speed dating – spending 15 minutes at interactive lab stations, each representing one of the nonprofit foundation’s five research programs.
OMRF President Andrew Weyrich, Ph.D., said the foundation hosts the event to thank its most consistent donors while helping them better understand how new scientific discoveries result from their support.
“You are the very fabric of OMRF,” Weyrich told them, invoking the foundation’s creation from a statewide, grassroots fundraising effort following World War II. “This is Oklahoma’s medical research foundation, and that reality is possible because of you and the generations of loyal supporters who preceded you.”
At one station in OMRF’s Research Tower, donors saw research models of heart cells. At another station, the team from OMRF’s Multiple Sclerosis Center of Excellence showed how MS appears on an MRI and gave donors a chance to try impaired-vision goggles to simulate an MS patient’s experience with vision challenges.
Valerie Payne of Moore has been an OMRF supporter since 1976. “Heart disease and cancer are close to my heart, but the bottom line is, I just think it’s a wonderful foundation, and it makes sense to donate,” she said. “I learn so much from these events.”
OMRF’s Loyal Donors Society is made up of supporters who have given to OMRF for at least five consecutive years and includes several donors who have contributed to the foundation for more than 50 straight years. Combined, Loyal Donor support in 2022 approached $5 million to advance scientific understanding of diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s. Every dollar goes directly to research.
Consistent giving ensures that scientists can continually make strides against disease, said Penny Voss, OMRF’s vice president of philanthropy and community relations.
“Our longtime donors understand and appreciate that scientific discoveries don’t happen overnight,” Voss said. “Their consistent giving illustrates that, and this annual event is one way we can show them our appreciation.”