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October 30, 2012
ANNAPOLIS, MD– Chesapeake Bayhawks All-Star midfielder Ben Hunt and defenseman Michael Simon attended the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s (MDA) Heartsongs Gala on October 23, 2012 at the Ritz Carlton in Washington, DC. The event paired professional athletes with a Goodwill Ambassador - a child suffering from a neuromuscular disease.

"The MDA Heartsongs Gala is a terrific event to help raise funds for MD research, creating MD awareness, and sending children to MDA camp for the week,” Hunt said. “It is very humbling to meet all of the goodwill ambassador children at the event and interact with them throughout the night. I have grown close to goodwill ambassador Mercy Escoto and her family over the three years I have attended the gala.  I look forward to participating again next year." 

Because of his overwhelmingly positive experience the previous two years, Hunt was ecstatic to get the opportunity to join in the cause again. This was Simon’s first year at the event and he also felt the experience was a positive and humbling one.

“Speaking and interacting with the kids who cope with muscular dystrophy was truly a tremendous experience,” Simon stated. “Those kids are really great with beautiful personalities and outlooks. Besides raising money to continue research to find a cure for muscular dystrophy, the gala also raises money to send children to MDA summer camps. After speaking with the kids and seeing their faces light up when they spoke about their experiences at camp, it is easy to see how much this means to them. At the end of the night the gala had already raised enough money to send more than 85 kids to camp, with donations still coming in as everyone was leaving.  I was honored to have been a part of the evening and it is something I hope to continue to be a part of in the future.”

The poster child of this event, Mattie J.T. Stepanek, lost his battle with the disease in 2004, but not before he was able to instill his beliefs of peace, happiness, and “listening to your heartsong” in others. Known to others as a peacemaker and a poet, Stepanek’s vision of the Heartsongs Gala was founded in 2003 to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. This year, the Heartsongs Gala raised over $215,000 for the cause.

For more information on the Muscular Dystrophy Association or the Heartsongs Gala, visit

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