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The Virginia - West Virginia Chapter works to improve the quality of life for people affected by MS throughout Virginia and West Virginia, as well as three counties in northeastern North Carolina and seven counties in southeastern Kentucky, and raise funds for critical MS research. Join the movement toward a world free of MS.


24th Annual Roanoke Dinner of Champions Honors Raymond D. Smoot, Ph.D. and Michael J. Friedlander, Ph.D.

September 23, 2015

The Chapter was pleased to honor Raymond D. Smoot, Ph.D., Senior Fellow, Virginia Tech Foundation and Chairman, Union Bank & Trust and Michael J. Friedlander, Ph.D., Founding Executive Director, Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute at the 24th annual Roanoke Dinner of Champions sponsored by Atlantic Bay Mortgage Group. The gala event took place on Tuesday, September 22, 2015 at Hotel Roanoke in Roanoke, VA. The event raised over $150,000 to support the National MS Society’s programs and services that ensure the over 12,000 individuals living with MS in Virginia and West Virginia and their families can live their best lives, as well as supports cutting-edge research to stop MS in its tracks, restore what has been lost, and end MS forever.  

The Virginia Tech Foundation and Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute have been major champions to the National MS Society and also support the organization's efforts to increase public awareness of the disease. "We are thrilled and delighted to honor Dr. Ray Smoot and Dr. Michael Friedlander at the 2015 Roanoke Dinner of Champions," said National MS Society, Virginia – West Virginia Chapter President Sherri Ellis. "Ray and Michael have been and continue to be caring and dedicated individuals, not only to the MS Society, but to the all of the organizations and groups they are a part of. They are most deserving of this honor."

The Dinner of Champions makes an enormous contribution in the movement to end multiple sclerosis, not only in raising funds for research, programs and services, but also in raising awareness about multiple sclerosis itself. With the continuing commitment of its supporters, especially the extraordinary generosity within the Roanoke and New River Valley communities, the Roanoke Dinner of Champions is one of the most highly visible fundraising events in the area. In the last twenty four years, the Roanoke Dinner of Champions has raised over $2.1 million. Each year, the dinner bestows the Norman Cohn Silver Hope Award, the most prestigious Society volunteer award at the chapter level, to an individual who has demonstrated an exceptional leadership role in the community. Previous honorees have included such distinguished individuals as Coach Frank Beamer, George B. Cartledge, Jr., Nancy Howell Agee, Carlton Waskey, Bittle W. Porterfield, III, and George Cartledge, Sr..

Pictured L to R: Chapter President, Sherri Ellis; Dinner of Champions Co-Chair, John E. Dooley, Ph.D.; Honoree and Silver Hope Award Recipient, Raymond D. Smoot, Ph.D.; Honoree and Silver Hope Award Recipient, Michael J. Friedlander; and Dinner of Champions Co-Chair, Nancy Howell Agee


Raymond D. Smoot, Ph.D.
Senior Fellow, Virginia Tech Foundation and Chairman, Union Bank & Trust

Raymond D. Smoot, Jr., retired in 2012 as Chief Executive Officer of the Virginia Tech Foundation, Inc. where he was responsible for management of assets in excess of $1.3 billion including the university’s endowment, the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, and the Hotel Roanoke.  He previously held several Vice Presidential posts at Virginia Tech, most recently as Vice President for Administration and Treasurer.  Prior to returning to Virginia Tech in 1975, he was a graduate research associate at The Ohio State University and served as a legislative assistant in the Ohio House of Representatives and Senate.  Dr. Smoot now serves as Senior Fellow at the Virginia Tech Foundation and as a director of several Virginia Tech Related Corporations.  

Dr. Smoot is a native of Lynchburg, Virginia, and earned bachelor and masters degrees from Virginia Tech and a Ph.D. from The Ohio State University.  While a student at Virginia Tech, he served as President of the Student Government Association. Virginia Tech President T. Marshall Hahn encouraged Dr. Smoot to pursue a career in university administration and, upon graduation, gave him a job in his office. This began a friendship and mentorship which continues to this day.

Dr. Smoot is married to Jean Newlon Smoot and has four children (Amanda, Ben, Darren and Eric) and two grandchildren. In his spare time he enjoys gardening, hunting, and fishing.

Dr. Smoot is active in business and community affairs, serving as Chairman and director of Union Bankshares (a regional bank), executive committee member and finance committee chair of Carilion Clinic, and a director of RGC Resources, Inc.  He is also a director of Warm Hearth (a non-profit retirement community), the Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, and has served as Chairman of the Investment Committee of the Virginia Retirement System, one of the nation’s largest pension funds.  He is a Director of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce and Mountain Lake Conservancy.  He also serves as an investment advisory board member of Harbert Venture Partners.  Dr. Smoot was recognized by the Association of University Research Parks as recipient of its 2005 National Community Leadership Award, and in 2012 by Junior Achievement as a member of its Western Virginia Business Hall of Fame. During 2015, Dr. Smoot serves as Chair of the Roanoke/Blacksburg Business Council, a regional group of senior corporate and business leaders. Virginia Business Magazine named Smoot among the fifty most influential Virginia Business Leaders in 2015.

Recently Dr. Smoot became co-chair of New River Valley Rail 2020, a regional effort to extend rail passenger service to the New River Valley following its extension to Roanoke in 2017.

Believing that innovation and entrepreneurship are fundamental to the economic and civic well-being of our region, Dr. Smoot was a founding director of the Roanoke Blacksburg Innovation Network and continues to work toward making the region attractive to recent college graduates possessing the technology and science skills necessary to the innovation economy.

Michael J. Friedlander, Ph.D.
Founding Executive Director, Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute

Michael Friedlander is the founding Executive Director of the Virginia Tech Carilion (VTC) Research Institute, the Senior Dean for Research at VTC School of Medicine and the Associate Provost for Health Sciences at VT.  He previously served as Professor and Chair of Neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine.  Prior to that, he was Professor and Founding Chair of the Department of Neurobiology, Director of the Civitan International Research Center and the McKnight Professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). He received his B.S. from Florida State University and his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Virginia School of Medicine and a research associate at SUNY Stony Brook, NY before joining the faculty at UAB.

Friedlander has served as the founding president of the Association of Medical School Neuroscience Department Chairs, Chair of the Council of Academic Societies of the AAMC, president of the Society of Experimental Biology and Medicine, a member of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute task force on the Scientific Foundations of Future Physicians, a member of the AAMC’s Advisory Panel on Research and as an elected AAMC Distinguished Service Member. He currently serves as the chair of the scientific advisory board of the Children’s National Medical Center and has served on the scientific advisory boards of the Civitan International Research Center, the Mission Connect Foundation, the Waisman Intellectual Disabilities Center, and the Michael DeBakey VA Medical Center Neurosciences Steering Committee. He was the elected Chair of the NICHD Intellectual Disabilities Research Center Network. He currently serves on the boards of Virginia Bio, the Science Museum of Western Virginia and the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council.

Dr. Friedlander is a recipient of an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship, an NIH Fogarty Center Senior International Fellowship to Australia, a Lucille Markey Foundation Center Award, a W.M. Keck Foundation Center Award, the American College of Physicians’ Menninger Award for Mental Health Research and a University of Illinois Distinguished Alumnus Award.  He has held visiting professorships at Oxford University, the John Curtin School of Medical Research in Australia and the University of Paris. He has provided invited testimony to the U.S. Congress and the Australian Parliament and most recently to the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.  Friedlander has served on the editorial boards of numerous scientific journals.  He recently co-founded a Ph.D. program at VT in Translational Biology, Medicine and Health.  He has individually mentored over 100 PhD students, research fellows, and junior faculty as well as numerous undergraduate and medical students on their research projects – several of whom have received international recognition including Rhodes and Marshall Scholarships. Friedlander has carried out research and published his work on plasticity of the living brain throughout the lifespan and on the application of neuroscience to education, particularly in medicine.  Most recently, his lab team participated in an expedition to Antarctica to identify the mechanisms whereby nerve cells in the brain of animals that live in extreme cold adapt to changes in the earth’s temperature.

Michael Friedlander and his wife Sandra, whose career has been in telecommunications with Bell South Corporation, moved to Roanoke in 2010 with their labradoodle, Grayton.  In addition to their delight in making Roanoke their home and being part of the Virginia Tech and Carilion families, they enjoy being within driving distance of their five wonderful daughters and five active grandchildren who all live along the Atlantic coast.  


2015 Dinner of Champions Committee

Dinner Chairs:

  • Nancy Howell Agee, President and Chief Executive Officer, Carilion Clinic
  • John E. Dooley, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer, Virginia Tech Foundation

Vice Chairs:

  • Russ Barksdale Jr.
  • Nathaniel L. Bishop, D. Min.
  • Alexander Boone
  • Ab Boxley
  • George B. Cartledge, III
  • Callie Dalton
  • John D’Orazio
  • Eric Eversole
  • Robert Fralin
  • Donald B. Halliwill
  • Cynda A. Johnson, M.D.
  • Bruce E. Johnson, M.D.
  • Ed Lawhorn
  • Cynthia Lawrence
  • Mark S. Lawrence
  • Brian Mason
  • Debbie Petrine
  • Robert H. Sandel, Ed.D.
  • Garnett Smith
  • Gary Walton
  • Stephen Waskey
  • John Williamson


Presenting Sponsor:

Atlantic Bay Mortgage Group

Gold Sponsors:

  • Carilion Clinic
  • Charlotte and Bittle Porterfield
  • Commonwealth Care of Roanoke, Inc.
  • Grand Home Furnishings
  • Highland Associates, Inc.
  • Medical Facilities of America, Inc.
  • Union Bank & Trust
  • Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute
  • Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine
  • Virginia Tech Foundation, Inc.

Silver Sponsors:

  • Adams Construction Company
  • Alderson-Williamson and the Botetourt YMCA Team
  • Alexander Boone &  Robert Fralin
  • Appalachian Power
  • Avis Construction Company, Inc.
  • BB&T
  • Boxley Materials Company
  • Brandon Oaks
  • Callie Dalton & Associates
  • Center in the Square
  • Davenport Energy and  First Piedmont Corporation
  • Entre Computers & Ferrum College
  • Fleetmaster Express, Inc.
  • Freedom First Credit Union
  • Friendship Health and
  • Rehabilitation Center Corporation
  • Friendship Retirement Community and Friendship Apartment Village Corporation
  • Garnett and Wendy Smith
  • Gentry Locke Attorneys
  • Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center
  • Hodges, Jones, & Mabry, P.C.
  • Interim HealthCare
  • Kroger
  • Lanford Brothers Company, Inc.
  • Luna Innovations Incorporated
  • Moss & Rocovich,  Attorneys-at-Law, P.C.
  • Optical Cable Corporation & Woods Rogers, PLC
  • Radford University              
  • Reynolds Architects, Inc.
  • Roanoke Gas Company
  • Rockydale Quarries Corporation
  • Rutherfoord: A Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC Company
  • Salem Terrace at Harrogate
  • SAS Builders, Inc.
  • Steel Dynamics, Inc.
  • Turner Long Construction
  • W. E. Skelton 4-H Educational Conference Center


About the Virginia - West Virginia Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society

The Virginia - West Virginia Chapter of the National MS Society provides comprehensive programs and advocacy to assist and empower the more than 12,000 individuals with multiple sclerosis residing throughout Virginia and West Virginia, as well as three counties in northeastern North Carolina and seven counties in southeastern Kentucky. The Virginia - West Virginia Chapter is also a driving force of research for the prevention, treatment and cure of MS and contributes funds to support National MS Society research projects worldwide. The Chapter has offices in Richmond, VA; Virginia Beach, VA; Charlottesville, VA; and Charleston, WV.

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide.


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