2011 AANS Annual Report - page 16

Teaming up To Benefit Research
Twenty-four teams of neurosurgeons from top medical institutions
competed June 4, 2011, in New York City’s Central Park at the 8th
Annual Neurosurgery Charity Softball Tournament. Supported by
AANS and hosted by Columbia University, the event benefited brain
tumor research through the NREF and the Pediatric Brain Tumor
Research Fund at Columbia University.
This year’s competing Departments of Neurosurgery included
Alabama, Albert Einstein, Barrow Neurological Institute, Colorado,
Columbia, Cornell/Memorial Sloan-Kettering, Dartmouth, Duke,
Emory, Florida, Harvard, Hopkins, Miami, Mount Sinai, Northwestern,
NYU, Penn, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Jefferson, Toronto and Utah. The
playoff field included Cornell/MSK and Columbia from the New York
division; Alabama and Emory from the South division, Barrow and
Pittsburgh from the West division, and Penn and Harvard from the
East division. The Final Four teams were Emory, Alabama, BNI and
Penn, with the BNI claiming its second consecutive championship by
beating Alabama in the finals. Adib Abla, MD, of the BNI was named
the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
For the eighth consecutive year, the Steinbrenner family and the
New York Yankees sponsored the tournament. In addition, Mayor
Michael Bloomberg declared the date “Neurosurgery Charity Softball
Tournament Day” in the city of New York.
The post-tournament reception was again held at the Bryant Park
Grill and sponsored by Brainlab. Other sponsors for the tournament
include Aloka, Alpha Omega, Baxter Biosurgery, Globus Medical,
Integra Foundation, Medtronic, Synthes Anspach, Synthes CMF,
Thieme and Zimmer Spine. Sponsorship for this year’s event
was strong, with nearly $57,000 in research funds raised. Visit
to view all of this year’s
supporters and links to their websites.
When Ricardo J. Komotar, MD, set up a few friendly games between
four New York City neurosurgical programs while interning at
Columbia University Medical Center’s Department of Neurological
Surgery in 2004, he didn’t foresee it morphing into a tournament
that attracts dozens of teams of physicians from around the country,
is sponsored by the New York Yankees and has had the date of the
games declared “Neurosurgery Charity Softball Tournament Day” by
New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. But the Neurosurgery Charity
Softball Tournament, which on June 4, 2011, featured 24 teams
from as far away as Arizona and Colorado, has become a revered
event among participants — and also has evolved into a tremendous
fundraising vehicle in the effort to fight brain tumors and promote
brain-tumor research awareness. Over the tournament’s eight-year
existence, more than $350,000 has been raised for the Neurosurgery
Research and Education Foundation of the AANS and the Columbia
University Pediatric Brain Tumor Research Fund — the latter of which
Dr. Komotar founded while at Columbia.
“The growth and success of this tournament is a direct result of the
collaboration between the AANS/NREF and Columbia University,
as well as a tribute to the dedication and commitment of each
participating team to supporting neuro-oncology research,” said Dr.
Komotar. “It also highlights how people want to give back to their
profession and support something that benefits everyone.”
Dr. Komotar looks to promote that sense of fellowship and giving as
tournament organizer, working with colleagues to raise funds that
help the NREF accomplish its mission. NREF funds well-conceived
clinical and outcomes research projects that are patient-oriented, and
address necessary improvements in patient care and quality of life:
The 2011 event has already raised some $57,000.
“When the opportunity arose for the AANS to support the 2011 Annual
Neurosurgery Charity Softball Tournament in Central Park, I jumped
at it, as I knew this would be a great event for a great cause,” noted
AANS President James T. Rutka, MD, PhD, FAANS. “All players on
the teams who participated were delighted to know that some of the
proceeds were going directly to support the NREF and its mission to
fund neurosurgical research.”
Not only does Dr. Komotar actively coordinate tournament activities
and serve as a liaison to promote the event, but as the program
evolved into a charity event, he sought out new ways to champion
the cause of brain-tumor research to larger audiences. A friend’s
recommendation to contact the New York Yankees about sponsoring
the tournament led to hours on the phone with the team’s front-office
personnel. Eventually, Dr. Komotar’s persistence paid off when then-
Yankee owner George Steinbrenner concurred that sponsoring the
tournament — and supporting its cause — was a good idea.
“The New York Yankees’ involvement really added validity to the
charity,” said Dr. Komotar, who noted that the team supports the event
both monetarily and via in-kind mention. “To put the name of arguably
the most well-known sports franchise in the world with our event,
it really lends credence to what we are doing and raises awareness
with other potential supporters.”
Dr. Komotar now serves as Assistant Professor,
Department of Neurological Surgery, at the
University of Miami (FL) School of Medicine after
having completing his neurosurgical residency at
Columbia University Medical Center and fellowship
in surgical neuro-oncology at Memorial Sloan-
Kettering Cancer Center.
Hitting a Home Run for Brain-Tumor Research
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