UMHealth.org, by Stacey Bomser – February 16, 2023
As one of South Florida’s most successful commercial real estate developers, Stephen Bittel has accomplished projects that have helped build the local landscape.The latest endeavor of the founder and chair of Terranova Corporation will have an even greater impact on the community — and the world. Bittel’s $1 million gift to the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine’s Movement Disorders Division in the Department of Neurology promises to accelerate research into a cure for Parkinson’s disease and improve developments in patient care.
Advancing Parkinson’s research and care is a cause that has been near and dear to the entrepreneur’s heart ever since the president of his company, Mindy McIlroy, was diagnosed in 2014. It came as a shock to them both, as she did not fit the typical patient profile.
While McIlroy processed this life-changing news, Bittel sprang into action. He called his friend John Kozyak, who was then chair of the Parkinson’s Foundation. Within days, Bittel and McIlroy were on an airplane to see one of the leading neurologists in the field.
With the diagnosis confirmed and a treatment plan in place, the two turned their attention to supporting the Parkinson’s Foundation. McIlroy started by creating a Moving Day team to raise funds, with Bittel pledging to match donations. As McIlroy’s involvement grew, she assumed leadership positions within the charity, and currently serves on its board of directors.
Independently, Bittel helped fund numerous Parkinson’s Foundation Centers of Excellence around the country and globally. To receive this designation, medical centers must meet rigorous care, clinical research, professional training, community education, and outreach criteria.
The Miller School’s Movement Disorders Division received designation as a Center of Excellence from the Parkinson’s Foundation in 2007.