Latest Circle News
National Philanthropy Award Winner
The Blue Bird Circle is honored to be receiving the “Outstanding Community Organization Award” on Friday, November 11 (National Philanthropy Day) which is hosted by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Greater Houston Chapter. This is one of the largest celebrations in the country and the premier celebration of philanthropy and recognition of community volunteers in the Greater Houston area. It is a true honor to be receiving this award and to celebrate the spirit of generosity and social good alongside so many wonderful organizations.
A Special Thank You for Texas Children's Hospital to The Blue Bird Circle
$10 million Gift to the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children's Hospital
Duncan NRI at Texas Children’s Hospital Accelerates Neurological Research and Therapies with Historic $10M Gift from The Blue Bird Circle
Houston, TX—September 23, 2022—The Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute (Duncan NRI) at Texas Children’s Hospital today announced it received a $10 million donation from The Blue Bird Circle.
The Duncan NRI is a multidisciplinary group of 30+ physicians and scientists working together to accelerate life-saving research and to develop effective therapies for the most complex, devastating neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative diseases. Led by renowned neurogeneticist, Dr. Huda Zoghbi, the Duncan NRI’s rapid rate of discovery is helping to bridge the gap between basic research and life-saving clinical care. Since its inception in 2010, the Duncan NRI has pioneered 1,400+ discoveries, co-discovered 70+ genetic mutations, and led to major breakthroughs in autism, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and other neurological and psychiatric disorders.
Founded in 1923, The Blue Bird Circle is Houston’s oldest organization of women who volunteer their time and efforts to support pediatric neurology. To commemorate its upcoming centennial anniversary and continue its legacy of more than $25 million in gifts to Texas Children’s, The Blue Bird Circle is making this historic donation to help advance life-changing neurological research at the Duncan NRI.
“As we embark on our 100th anniversary celebration, we are honored to mark this significant year with a transformational gift to the Duncan NRI,” said Abigail Tonry, President of The Blue Bird Circle. “Under the leadership of Dr. Huda Zoghbi, we know this gift will only help to further propel the Duncan NRI’s important work and keep it at the forefront of neurological research in Texas.”
The Blue Bird Circle has worked tirelessly for nearly 40 years to fund neurological research focused on unraveling the mysteries of Rett syndrome, a complex neurological disease primarily affecting young girls. At Texas Children’s Hospital Blue Bird Clinic, Blue Bird volunteers log more than 5,000 hours a year in administrative assistance — the equivalent of three full-time employees. Since its affiliation with Texas Children’s began in 1998, the philanthropic organization’s substantial giving has helped open two research centers where clinical trials are transforming innovative discoveries into life-changing therapies. Through revenue generated by its volunteer-run resale shop and other fundraising activities, The Blue Bird Circle makes additional donations of more than $1 million each year to support children’s health in Texas.
“In 1983, the Blue Bird Circle gave the seed grant that enabled my initial research into Rett syndrome,” said Dr. Huda Zoghbi, Director of the Duncan NRI at Texas Children’s Hospital, Distinguished Service Professor at Baylor College of Medicine, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. “Since then, we have been able to make great strides in our research culminating in nearly four decades of groundbreaking discoveries. This gift of $10 million allows the Duncan NRI to widen the scope of our translational research and accelerate the trajectory of therapies from the lab to the patients.”
Each year Blue Birds join together to celebrate and honor The Blue Bird Circle’s outgoing President. This year was extra special as we had not gathered to honor a Blue Bird President since 2019 due to COVID. Marie Bell was honored and introduced by her longtime friend Susan Bradford at Brennan’s in downtown Houston. Carolyn Williams, Past President presented Marie with a beautiful “Blue Bird” necklace on behalf of the Circle.
Marie served as President for 18 months leading the Circle through the return from Covid restrictions, Under her leadership, Blue Birds reopened the Resale Shop, held in-person meetings, held a successful Spring Luncheon raising over $200,000 for the benefit of neurology at Texas Children’s Hospital, and many more activities. Marie’s leadership is much appreciated by The Blue Bird Circle. Don’t worry Marie will not be leaving, you can see her working at the Shop.
Spring Luncheon 2022
The Blue Bird Circle Spring Luncheon returned as an in-person event on March 23rd at the Briar Club with close to 320 guests attending. Guests were in awe as they walked into the ballroom seeing the tables set with theme-inspired “Tea Pot” cakes and gorgeous flowers. That theme, “Better Together”, brought together Texas Children’s Hospital doctors and staff, local community members, friends and supporters of The Blue Bird Circle, and of course Blue Bird members all in an effort to support the BBC Neurological Clinics and Research at TCH. Thanks to Luncheon Chairs, Trish Greaser and Ellen Stough knowing that we are really “Better Together” as $235,000 was raised to support our cause. Guests marveled at the story shared by speaker, Stacia Kalinoski on her journey of overcoming her epileptic seizures through brain surgery. Fun was had by all participating in the Silent Auction that contributed to the monies raised. A highlight of the day was when Blue Bird President, Marie Bell honored retiring doctor, Dr. Daniel Glaze by thanking him for his over thirty years of dedication to research at the Rett Research Lab.