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The Snow Foundation: Getting Closer to a Cure

The good works of former Notre Dame Football player, Jack Snow, continue on in his memory.

I’ve had the privilege of meeting quite a few Notre Dame Fighting Irish football greats over the years, but one of the most memorable happens to be one of my father’s classmates: Jack Snow. Although I only had the opportunity to meet him a couple of times, I have heard countless stories about him from my dad, and he has left quite an impression on me. But before I get too far ahead of myself, let me back up a bit.

Jack Thomas Snow (January 25, 1943 – January 9, 2006) played wide receiver at the University of Notre Dame from 1962 through 1964 and with the Los Angeles Rams of the NFL from 1965 to 1975. During his senior year at Notre Dame, Snow was a consensus All-American and finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1964 behind the winner, fellow teammate Notre Dame quarterback John Huarte. 1964 was coach Ara Parseghian’s first season with Notre Dame, and Parseghian made several key position switches in 1964, including moving Snow from flanker to wide receiver. Snow lost 15 pounds to compete more effectively as a receiver. Notre Dame’s passing offense in Parseghian’s first season helped produce 27 team and individual records, including five set by Snow: receptions (60), receiving yards (1,114) and touchdown catches (9) in a season; receiving yards in a game (217, vs. Wisconsin); and career receiving yards (1,242). He scored 19 more receptions in one season than any previous Notre Dame player. Snow also averaged nearly 37 yards per kick as the 1964 team’s punter.

This is one of Jack Snow’s beautiful grandchildren, his granddaughter Raquel.
Photo courtesy of The Snow Foundation

The Jack and J.T. Snow Scientific Research Foundation (The Snow Foundation) was founded by J.T. Snow, former six time MLB gold glove recipient and his sister, Stephanie Snow Gebel, the daughter of the late Jack Snow. Jack’s granddaughter, Raquel Gebel was diagnosed in 2010 at the age of four years old with a rare form of diabetes, called Wolfram syndrome. J.T. and Stephanie decided to raise awareness and funding to find a drug therapy for this devastating form of diabetes.

Wolfram syndrome presents as Type 1 Diabetes and ultimately progresses to vision loss, hearing loss and cognitive decline. Tragically, 60% of patients affected by Wolfram syndrome die by their 30th birthday. The mission of The Snow Foundation is to make a difference in the future of medicine and of society by promoting and conducting cutting-edge clinical and basic science research on Wolfram syndrome and diabetes.

The Snow Foundation plays a central role in supporting research being conducted at Washington University School of Medicine located in St. Louis, Missouri and supporting international collaborative research efforts. What is clear from this research is the strong link between Wolfram syndrome and diabetes, and it is their firm belief, and that of the renowned researchers with whom they are partnering with, that a cure for Wolfram syndrome will lead to treatments, if not a cure, for patients with diabetes. This would revolutionize healthcare, as we know it today.

This amazing foundation is primarily run by two women, Stephanie Snow Gebel (who over the last fifteen years has become a dear friend of mine) and Anne Cordial Harkin, both mothers of four children who have made it their life’s work to find a cure for this heartbreaking disease. I am constantly amazed at the work these two women have done in the face of such great diversity. Their work is near and dear to my heart not only as a mother, but also because my father and Stephanie’s father were friends throughout college and their lives.

In order to reach their goal of getting a drug to these children, their research must move into the clinical trial stage, and the foundation is in great need of financial support in order to continue moving forward. The Snow Foundation has identified a new cellular mechanism responsible for diabetes, and neurodegeneration, and The Snow Foundation team is very close to identifying potential treatment options. Their research will lead to new therapies and potentially a cure for diabetes and other neurological disorders such as Alzheimer and Parkinson’s.

It is my hope that the Notre Dame family and community will help The Snow Foundation reach their goal, and not only help kids like Raquel, but all those who suffer from this debilitating disease. Jack’s granddaughter, Raquel should not have to lose her vision, hearing and brain development because of a lack of funding. Lets try to help her and the other children who are suffering from this insidious disease live a normal life they so deserve.

On August 11, 2018, my friends at The Snow Foundation are having their first ever event in Santa Monica, California. Former Notre Dame quarterback John Huarte and his lovely wife Eileen are one of their sponsors and I’d love it if you helped me spread the word about this fantastic event! Want to buy tickets? Visit their event page: Eat-Dine-Give

To learn more about The Snow Foundation, below is a video narrated by Notre Dame alum, Regis Philbin. You can also visit their website at www.thesnowfoundation.org.

Thank you, so much, for your time!

Cheers & GO IRISH!