In the history of Minnesota State Senator Ann Rest’s family‚ ataxia has been a “tragic challenge.” Rest’s former husband battled hereditary ataxia‚ as did his grandmother‚ mother‚ uncle‚ and sister.
Rest wanted to get involved with the Bob Allison Ataxia Research Center (BAARC) to help discover a better future for other people with ataxia.
“For many ataxia patients‚ this disease can be a discouraging progression of increasing disability‚” she says. “But those of us who are family members focus on the future and possibilities for a cure or treatments of symptoms that improve the quality of life.”
So Rest took action. She joined the BAARC board of directors in 2000 and later designated an IRA now worth $8‚000 to support the research center’s mission.
“I started this IRA but had stopped contributing to it a number of years ago‚ so I decided to give the value of that retirement account to BAARC‚” she says.
By making this planned gift‚ Rest says she’s expressing hope that someday a cure for ataxia will be found. “I think a lot about the future and my young grandsons‚” she says. “I want their futures to include hope for good health.”
Rest had initially planned to make annual gifts to BAARC as long as she was financially able but concluded that a planned gift seemed more appropriate. “That’s possible even for people like me who are of more modest incomes‚” she says.
It’s important for middle-income individuals to know that they‚ too‚ can be philanthropists‚ Rest says. “You don’t have to be a rich person to make a planned gift‚” she says. “I’m not a rich person‚ but I had a tool available to me just like other people do. I encourage people of more modest means and incomes to look at their assets and examine their options for planned giving.”
Rest’s dedication to BAARC continues to grow. She says she’s enthusiastic about breakthroughs in identifying the genes linked to various forms of ataxia. She is also encouraged by the increasing number of therapies that help improve quality of life for ataxia patients today.
“The researchers and clinicians at the University of Minnesota see their patients as folks with families who have their own dreams and aspirations‚” Rest says. “We’re not just research subjects. They have embraced our families and our concerns.”