Celebrating 40 years and all that we’ve accomplished as an organization and a community is a wonderful milestone. We’ve learned so much about Williams syndrome and provided a solid foundation for increased learning and excellent care for the future.
Just that would be enough, but our community now has even more to celebrate, with the very special, and incredibly generous $25 million dollar gift that Mike Armellino has provided to the University of Pennsylvania Health System (Penn Medicine) for the establishment of the Armellino Center of Excellence for Williams syndrome - a gift that will go a long way toward increasing awareness for WS, generating new and exciting research, and provide unprecedented, life-long care for those with Williams syndrome..
Mr. Armellino is a Penn alumnus with a close connection to Williams syndrome: his partner’s 7-year-old granddaughter, Maelyn. “Maelyn, along with her younger brother and my grandchildren, are the lights of my life,” Armellino says. “I am so impressed by Maelyn’s parents Jenna and Corey, and all the parents I’ve met who are part of the Williams syndrome community. This gift is my way to advance genetic research and to help create a bright future for individuals with Williams syndrome.”
It’s always been our aspiration as a community to “Dare to Dream.” Today we can celebrate the rewards of helping to make those dreams come true. But we must continue to dream and we should DREAM BIG, because that is the pathway to change.
The generosity of Mr. Armellino and the creation of the Center of Excellence for Williams syndrome truly sets the stage for our dreams for the future, and the Williams Syndrome Association is sincerely honored to be invited to participate. The collaborations and partnerships between the WSA, and the medical and educational communities have been critical to our success and will be even more important in the future.
We are nowhere close to answering many of the questions surrounding Williams syndrome, or to providing the resources required to help all individuals with WS and their families through a lifelong journey. We are extremely grateful to have the help of the Armellino Center of Excellence, and additional Centers that we hope it will inspire, as we continue to better understand Williams syndrome and create the resources needed for individuals with WS, to lead a rich and meaningful life.
Terry Monkaba, Executive Director