For years, most people had never heard of Celiac disease and most doctors didn’t know how to diagnose it. Yet about one in 100 children has celiac disease, making it one of the most common conditions in children. It is a genetic, autoimmune digestive disease that damages the small intestine and interferes with the absorption of nutrients from food.
Today Children’s National is helping to improve the way pediatric celiac disease is diagnosed and treated. Working in partnership with concerned members of the community, their Celiac Disease Program brings together a team of expert physicians, nurses, nutritional consultants and professional counselors dedicated to developing a national model for detecting and treating celiac disease in children. The goal is to attack celiac disease aggressively through improved diagnosis, treatment and awareness.
Saturday evening saw those concerned members of the community again hold the Annual Celiac Gala to support the work of the Celiac Center at Children’s National. But this year was a little different. The Gala was held at Nationals Park and joining benefactors Blair and Steve Raber, who began this Gala years ago because their daughter Kate has celiac disease, were joined by chairs Julia and Jayson Werth.
Jayson is known as the slugging all-star member of the Washington Nationals. He is a hero to baseball fans and in 2010 was signed to a seven year multi-million dollar contract. What people don’t know is Jayson has an autoimmune disease and lives on a gluten free diet. His son also suffers from the disease. Jayson and his wife Julia, both community oriented, joined Blair and Steve to make this the most successful Gala ever. Guests were given a tour of the stadium and allowed to take batting practice. The Nationals had one of their President’s, Teddy, help with the live auction and everyone wanted a picture with Teddy. Through this Gala and support from the Rabers, Werths and the hundreds in attendance, more children can be cared for and served at Children’s and more research and community education can take place.
We do know people who have celiac disease are permanently intolerant to gluten, a protein found in all forms of wheat, rye, and barley. When ingested by affected individuals, an autoimmune reaction causes inflammation and damage to the nutrient-absorbing villi in the small intestine. If left unchecked, damage can occur in nearly every system in the body: skeletal, reproductive, neurological, and dermatologic to name a few. Currently the only treatment for celiac disease is a gluten-free diet.
The specialists at Children’s have the expertise to make the diagnosis and help families manage the disease. The actual diagnosis is usually a blood test to measure for higher than normal levels of certain autoantibodies in their blood. Fortunately, the disease is well managed with a change in diet.
Former Congressman Phil Sharp (D-IN), long time resident of the District of Columbia, was awarded the Schlesinger Medal for Energy Security by the Secretary of the Department of Energy (DOE) Ernest Moniz. The medal is named after the first United States Secretary of Energy James R. Schlesinger.
Sharp had a distinguished twenty year career in the Congress. He was elected in the class designated as the Watergate babies taking his seat in 1975 and retiring in 1995. During his time in Congress one of the committees he served on was the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where he chaired the Fossil and Synthetic Fuels Subcommittee. Sharp took key leadership roles in the development of landmark energy legislation. He was the driving force behind the Energy Policy Act of 1992 which led to the restructuring of the wholesale electricity market, promoted renewable energy, established more rigorous energy-efficiency standards, and encouraged the expanded use of alternative fuels.
Upon leaving congress he joined Harvard’s Kennedy School where he was a lecturer in public policy and also served as director of Harvard’s Institute of Politics. Since 2005 Sharp has served as President of the prestigious think tank Resources for the Future (RFF).
Sharp is widely recognized in the world as a leader in the energy area and currently serves on the board of directors of the Energy Foundation and on the external advisory board of the MIT Energy Initiative. Previously he was named by President Obama to serve on the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future and served on the National Academies’ Committee on America’s Climate Choices. When president Obama was choosing his first cabinet Sharp’s name was circulated as a potential Secretary of the Department of Energy and I am sure if Hillary Clinton is elected he will again be on a short list for that position.
The ceremony honoring Dr. Sharp included a distinguished panel discussion titled ‘A New World: Global Energy Security”. Panelists who all praised the work of Sharp included General James Jones, USMC, (ret.) who was formerly commander of U.S. European Command and supreme commander, Europe, where he led all military operations for NATO. He served for two years as President Obama’s national security advisor; Dr. Anna Palacio who is currently a member of the Council of the State of Spain, the supreme consultative body to the Spanish Government on legislation and regulation. She is also a member of the Atlantic Council of the United States and was the first woman in charge of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Spain; Mr. Adam Sieminski administrator of the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) and Mr. Jason Bordoff currently on the faculty of Columbia University where he went after serving President Obama as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Energy and Climate Change on the staff of the National Security Council.
This was a well-deserved honor for Dr. Sharp. The impressive ceremony was attended by family and friends of Dr. Sharp, government energy officials and other distinguished guests including former Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN).
Ronald C. Machen Jr., formerly U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, is now at the Wilmer Hale law firm likely on his way to a long million-dollar-a-year career. This is his reward for a nearly four-year investigation of D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray’s 2010 campaign that never found any wrongdoing by Mayor Gray.
Now that the investigation has been ended by the current U.S. Attorney for the District, Channing D. Phillips, with the statement “Based on a thorough review of the available evidence and applicable law, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has concluded that the admissible evidence is likely insufficient to obtain and sustain a criminal conviction against any other individuals,” we must ask whether Machen will receive some penalty for interfering with an election. He certainly deserves to be cited for this or it sends the wrong message to U.S. Attorneys across the nation as to what is acceptable practice.
Although the investigation into Gray’s 2010 election campaign is now over, Gray has no statement from the Department of Justice saying he is innocent and that is something he should have. For four years the investigation was a cloud over his head and the heads of the citizens of the District. Many of us were constantly amazed at Gray’s ability to lead the city, and lead it well, while the investigation was ongoing with members of the Council calling for his resignation and the Washington Post leading a drumbeat of attacks against him. Under Gray’s leadership the city prospered and continued to move forward.
We will never know whether Gray would have won reelection had Machen not held a news conference one week before early voting started and stated as fact information he got from an admitted felon, Jeffrey Thompson, saying, “Gray brought a one-page handout to a meeting with Thompson detailing how $425,000 would be spent for a ‘get-out-the-vote’ effort, coordinated with the official Gray campaign. Gray presented the document to Thompson, and Thompson agreed. According to court documents, Gray thanked him and called him ‘Uncle.’”
Making the statement when he did was clearly an abuse of his office. Now with the investigation dropped, Machen is facing no penalty and Gray is left to wonder ‘what if.’ That is patently unfair.
I always have and continue to believe in the decency of Vincent Gray. I have worked with him for years and he has always stood for what is good in people. On the other hand my opinion of the Justice Department has gone down seeing how they worked to ruin the reputation of a decent man and interfered in an election without proof of wrongdoing. Another person who will never know what the results of the primary election would have been without Machen’s interference is Mayor Muriel Bowser and I am sure she would have rather won without it.
The people of the District are being well served by Bowser. She has stepped up to the plate and continued many of Gray’s programs, adding many of her own, and built a good administration continuing to move the District forward. We continue to make progress in areas like education and improving the environment, among others. We see how one administration builds on the work of past ones. Two of Mayor Bowser’s leading cabinet members first began to serve the people of the District in the Fenty administration.
I have no idea what Vincent Gray will do now. There are many ways Gray can serve the people of the District and the nation. One is to run for office but there are others as he is a seasoned and well-respected non-profit executive and has a wealth of knowledge and experience to share. Whatever he chooses to do it is clear from the past he will do it well and do it with all his heart.