Med students auctioned off for asthma prevention

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asthmaMedical students stripped off their white lab coats and strutted their stuff down the runway in Sayles Hall Friday night in an effort to raise money for asthmatic children.

The charity auction, dubbed "Date a Doctor," raised $3,641 for the Community Asthma Programs at Hasbro Children's Hospital, including a top bid of $469 for a date with Stacey Weinstein '05 MD'09, who co-hosted and organized the event.

"It's all for the kids," participant Cliff Voigt '05 MD'09 said to the crowd after demonstrating his dancing talent.

The event was hosted by Breeze Against Wheeze, a group comprising Brown med students and undergraduates, and the proceeds went toward the group's goal of providing the Community Asthma Programs with a quarter of the money needed to run its summer educational camp, which teaches low-income children with asthma how to live with the disease.

Since 2001, Breeze Against Wheeze has hosted an annual fundraising run and walk to raise money, and most of the money the group raises comes from their annual 5K run, according to coordinator Hanae Fujii-Rios '06, who is now a research assistant in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Physiology and Biotechnology.

"We wanted to do something fun to get people excited about the race and raise some money," Weinstein said the day before the event.

The runner-up to Weinstein in the bidding for dates with medical students was Andrea Dean MD'10, who raked in $200. The hosts described Dean as a Gemini from Minnesota who enjoys dancing, travel and cats.

Former investment banker Brad Weinberg '03 MD'09 was described in the event's program as "not only your Jewish mother's wet dream, he can also take care of your assets." The blond-haired, blue-eyed Jewish Capricorn set the minimum asking price at $100.

Most contestants went for about $125 after receiving bids from various individuals and groups. Sayles Hall was packed at the beginning of the event, but the crowd emptied to half-capacity halfway into the show.

Most contestants told The Herald that they weren't nervous before the show. "Worse case scenario, I have a great story to tell," said Eric Palecek MD'10, referring to the possibility of no one bidding on him. "I've been looking for a most-embarrassing moment."

The night's datable doctors were part of a full package, including a gift certificate for dinner at restaurants like Barnsider's Mile and a Quarter and Pakarang, a more active date like ice skating at the Bank of America Skating Center or a trip to the Roger Williams Park Zoo. First choice for the date packages was given to the night's highest bidder.

Even though the event was advertised on table slips in dining halls, "Date a Doctor" did not seem to draw many undergraduates. Most of the bids were placed by other med students, and the bidders were generally known to the hosts. Frequently, contestants bid on each other. Marie Audett '05 MD'09 and Rajeev Chaudhry MD'09 bought dates with each other for over $100 each.

Other contestants auctioned off their "services" instead of a date, including baking cookies, Spanish lessons and a bike tune-up. Attendees could also bid on a violin serenade from Vivek Shenoy MD'10 or salsa lessons from Christina Rincon '05 MD'09. Many contestants credited Weinstein for convincing them to participate. "Stacy's e-mail (requesting participation) was too compelling, it was the funniest e-mail I ever read," Shenoy said.

The night's most active bidder was Zach Aarons '05 who purchased dates with three contestants, for over $100 each, and bid on many more. He traveled from New York City for the event because "Weinstein is one of (his) best friends," he said.

Aarons and Weinstein are both asthmatics themselves, strengthening their commitment to the cause.

"Let's give it up for Warren Alpert," Weinstein said during the event, expressing gratitude to the entrepreneur who donated $100 million last week to the Medical School, which has since been named for him. Weinstein continued, "So now we are the Warren Alpert Medical School. That's right, now we're known as WAMS."

source The Brown Daily Herald