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Sanofi-aventis and Matheny: A Special Relationship

Michelle Ray, trying out a power wheelchair
during sanofi-aventis therapy education
program at Matheny.

Living in Bernardsville, Michelle Ray had often heard about Matheny, but she “had never experienced it first-hand” until she visited as part of a group of sanofi-aventis executives attending a program educating them about occupational, physical, music, recreation and speech therapy. 

Sanofi-aventis, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, with U.S. headquarters in Bridgewater, will be the title sponsor for the fourth consecutive year of Miles for Matheny, Matheny’s fundraising and community event to be held on April 19 in downtown Peapack.  But the company believes philanthropy is, “more than simply contributing money” and offers its employees a variety of opportunities to serve through volunteerism.  In addition to the session Ray attended, groups of s-a executives have participated in special field days at Matheny the past two falls. 

Ray, a director of marketing at sanofi-aventis, says last spring’s visit was, “a great opportunity to see what an amazing facility Matheny is.  I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a parent with a disabled child, but the parents of Matheny patients are so fortunate to have this type of facility.  This was an eye-opener to what Matheny does and the patients it serves.  It put everything into perspective.”

The sanofi visits to Matheny are coordinated by Brent Ragans, vice president and head of general therapeutics.  “We talk a lot about patient health and how we’re contributing to it,” he says.  “When we do things like visit at Matheny, we feel like we’re being good citizens.  We feel a responsibility and a desire to be contributing members of the community.”

Ragans says sanofi hopes to, “broaden participation in Miles for Matheny.  This has been a good relationship.  We feel we’ve formed a kinship.  It’s a relationship we want to continue in any way we can, be it financial or otherwise.”

Ray has a special connection to Miles for Matheny.  She attends the same church – St. John on the Mountain in Bernardsville – as Basking Ridge resident, Lu Huggins, who was one of the founders of the event in 1998.  Huggins, a Matheny trustee emeritus, conceived of the wheelchair walk, now named after her, because she was concerned that Matheny patients, “had no idea what life was like in the real world.  No one in the community ever saw them.”  Huggins’ accomplishment was all the more extraordinary in light of her own progressive illness that requires her to depend on a wheelchair and significantly impairs her vision and speech.

Every dollar raised at Miles for Matheny directly supports the Matheny Center of Medicine and Dentistry, which provides specialized medical, dental and therapy services to Matheny’s residents and disabled people living in the community.  Activities, in addition to the Lu Huggins Wheelchair Walk, include a 5K run, several cycling routes and a kids fun run.  All are followed by a celebration picnic at Matheny. 

For more information or to register, log onto or call (908) 234-0011, ext. 260.

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