Each month, we highlight a celebrity’s work on behalf of a specific cause. This month we speak with Teri Hatcher, star of ABC’s "Desperate Housewives," about her work for The 8th Annual Comedy For A Cure to benefit the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance. The alliance works to fund research for tuberous sclerosis complex, a genetic disorder in which tumors form on vital body organs. On April 5, Comedy For A Cure raised $300,000 to support the 1 million people affected with this disease worldwide.
Question: Can you tell me about the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance and what it does?
Hatcher: Tuberous sclerosis complex is a horrible genetic disease that causes tumors to form on vital organs like the brain, heart, kidneys and lungs. These tumors then cause seizures — some children have multiple seizures every day and it’s also the leading genetic cause of epilepsy and autism. Currently, there is no cure.
Q: How long have you been involved with the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance and Comedy For A Cure?
Hatcher: I became involved five years ago as a host for Comedy For A Cure and once I met these families and heard their tragic stories I knew I had to help in any way I could.
Q: What is your role with the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance and Comedy For A Cure?
Hatcher: I am a Member of the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance corporate advisory board and the honorary auction chair for Comedy for a Cure this year. I do whatever I can to help raise awareness through interviews just like this. It's so important to get the word out.
Q: How does an event, such as Comedy For A Cure, benefit the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance?
Hatcher: I found out that with the funds raised from this event alone, the TS Alliance was able to develop an in-utero test for expecting parents to know if their unborn child was a carrier of the disease. It's rare that we actually get to see the funds we raise at an event actually used for something tangible. That is one of the things that makes this event so special.
Now we are seeing these funds go to work on research and recently they found a new medication that can shrink some types of tumors in TSC. It may also control seizures and help reverse brain abnormalities. This type of breakthrough, from an event like Comedy for a Cure, makes me know I am making a tangible difference.
Q: Why is their work important?
Hatcher: This is a little-known disease but it has devastating effects. If they can cure this can you imagine how many children's lives would change? And their parents? And they are very close to finding a cure, which is why events like this are so important.
Q: What was your most memorable experience at Comedy For A Cure?
Hatcher: Three years ago a mother came up to me during the silent auction to thank me for attending the event one year before. She told me how just me being there gave them hope and made them realize that they are not alone, and that people actually do care and are willing to put the needs of TS families first.
Q: What is the most important thing the public can do to support the work of the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance?
Hatcher: Learn more about tuberous sclerosis complex by visiting the TS Alliance Web site at http://www.tsalliance.org. Their research has this interesting domino effect with crossover into epilepsy, autism and even cancer. An investment in this organization will yield real results for most anyone we know. I hope others will join me as a supporter.
P.S. Here's a scoop for you: I just shot my first scene with Gale Harold, who just came back to the show, and he is sexier than ever!
Interviewed via e-mail by Giacinta Pace, NBC News
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