MSA proclamationApr. 18, 2019, 8:55 AM
A retired high school basketball coach from Murfreesboro was honored by the Tennessee State Senate on Thursday, March 21, for his efforts to shine a light on the rare disease that killed his wife six years ago.
During a ceremony in the Senate chambers of the state Capitol building, Bob Summers, former boys’ basketball coach at Middle Tennessee Christian School and Riverdale High School in Murfreesboro, was presented with a signed and framed Senate proclamation declaring March 2019 as Multiple System Atrophy Awareness Month in Tennessee.
Multiple system atrophy (MSA) is a neurodegenerative disease that disrupts vital autonomic (involuntary) functions including blood pressure and heart rate. Summers’ wife Susan, who was treated at the Vanderbilt Autonomic Dysfunction Center, battled the disorder for two decades before her death in May 2012.
The proclamation was presented by State Sen. Shane Reeves, R-District 14, a former student at Middle Tennessee Christian School in Murfreesboro where Summers was a coach and athletic director. Summers was recognized for his efforts to raise awareness and serve as an ambassador for patients and their families with this rare disease.
The presentation was attended by physician-researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center who are trying to develop the first effective treatments for the disease. They included David Robertson, MD, professor of Medicine, emeritus, co-founder and former director of the Vanderbilt Autonomic Dysfunction Center and one of the founders of the MSA Support Group; Italo Biaggioni, MD, the David Robertson, MD, Professor of Autonomic Disorders and current center director; and Cyndya Shibao, MD, MSCI, associate professor of Medicine, who is leading a study of a possible treatment for MSA.