Arbus’ father, Leonard H. Goldenson, founder of ABC, and mother, Isabelle, founded the United Cerebral Palsy Research & Educational Foundation (renamed CPIRF) in 1955 after their daughter Genise was born with cerebral palsy. Her parents’ interest, “was to pursue research into the causes and prevention of cerebral palsy and to educate people about best practices for a condition that was shrouded in misinformation and embarrassment,” Arbus explains.
Today, CPIRF advocates for more federal support for developmental disabilities, among many other accomplishments. Its “Miracle in the Middle East” project brings together scientists from Israel, Palestine and Jordan to help Middle Eastern children with cerebral palsy and other neurological conditions. “CPIRF’s culturally diverse scientists focus on our human similarities, not our differences, developing new, innovative ways to improve the quality of life through collaboration,” Arbus explains. The foundation also works assiduously with the African American community.
Shelley Reid, a senior vice president at Fox Television, says, “This is a marvelous organization, working with one of the not-talked-about disasters in the medical system.” She explains that research is discovering a disproportionately large number of African American people with cerebral palsy.
John Amos, an actor, former football player and recipient of an NAACP Image Award, was honored at the December 2008 CPRIF annual awards dinner in Los Angeles. “To be a part of the CPI family is to be a part of a transformational generation of individuals who collectively are changing the medical landscape for children who inhabit this entire planet,” he says. “I am honored and humbled by their acknowledgement of my meager efforts to help effect that change.”
Arbus adds, “My foundation [of Los Angeles] supports and I am passionate about a broad scope of subject areas, including science, medicine, research, women and girls, people with disabilities and other minorities, gender and racial equity in media, the arts, the environment, and world peace. What is right can be done regardless of lack of precedent and with an unrelenting commitment to realizing new opportunities.”