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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Lonnie Ali Testifies Before Congress

Aired May 22, 2002 - 10:34   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: We have breaking news right now out of Washington D.C. Two very famous people are testifying before Congress today. This is Lonnie Ali, who is the wife of Muhammad Ali, and she is speaking out against Parkinson's Disease. Michael J. Fox will be the other one testifying today. I don't know if Muhammad Ali is there or not. We think that he is. He's supposed to be there. He's somwewhere in the audience there.

Let's listen in.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

LONNIE ALI, MUHAMMAD ALI'S WIFE: ... to his efforts to raise awareness about the plight of many third-world countries. Muhammed has never been far from the center ring. Today, however, he is facing an opponent like any he has ever fought. Just as the million other American who suffer from Parkinson's, Muhammad is battling a relentless, remorseless insidious thief. Parkinson's recognizes no titles, respects no achievements, nor bows to any amount of talent, courage or character. Parkinson's does not discriminate.

There is No question that Parkinson's is the fight of Muhammad's life.

Thank you, Muhammad.

But Parkinson's effects more than those than those who have -- who just had the disease. As a wife, friend and confidante of someone who lives with someone with Parkinson's, I can tell that you our entire family and our close friends have been profoundly impacted as well.

At this time in our lives, we had expected to be enjoying retirement, continuing to fight for important causes, and most importantly, enjoying time together as a family. Parkinson's never stops trying to rob us of those dreams.

Even though Muhammad keeps punching back and refuses to go down for the count, we are certainly not living the life we envisited. We often talk how much more Muhammad would be doing to make the world a better place, to stand up for those who can't stand up for themselves, to fight racism and to spread his message of peace. There can be no doubt Parkinson's is depriving not only our family, but the nation and even the world of Muhammad's full contribution.

But Muhammad is only one man. There are one million Americans suffering from Parkinson's. Imagine what those million Americans could be doing to better the world if not for this disease.

While Muhammad and I keep up the fight on a personal level, scientists are fighting each and every day in laboratories to find a cure. They tell us that Parkinson's is the most curable neurological disease.

In fact, in a hearing before this subcommittee on September the 28th in 1999, Dr. J. William Lanestein (ph), president of the Parkinson's Institute and a member of the scientific advisory board for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research said while scientists full of serendipity and unexpected surprises and research, sometimes you hit a point where it's time to focus. I trully believe that we are now at a point were there is enough knowledge, that it is a time to focus.

With a focused effort, the pieces are in front of us, the science is there. I think we can make major progress toward this disease. We have reach a crossroads. We know the science is there, but the money is not.

I am proud to serve as a member of the board of the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research. The foundation is doing tremendous work to fund incredibly promising private research. Now it's time for the federal government to get into the fight for real.

We must provide the federal funds necessary...

LIN: For those just joining us this is Lonnie Ali, the wife of Muhammad Ali, testifying on Capitol Hill today. For the fight against Parkinson's, she wants more money from Congress to better battle that disease. Michael J. Fox will also be testifying before Congress today.

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