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Thursday, December 09, 2021
<p class="p1">Alicia Lew presents a check on Monday afternoon at the McKnight Brain Institute to Paul J. Reier, who said he wants to buy new equipment.</p>

Alicia Lew presents a check on Monday afternoon at the McKnight Brain Institute to Paul J. Reier, who said he wants to buy new equipment.

When Alicia Lew’s family friend lost the use of his legs in a car accident, she decided to raise money for spinal cord research by doing what she loves — hosting an art auction.

Lew, a 21-year-old UF biology senior, held her gallery on Jan. 25 in the ballroom of the Mission Inn Club and Resort, located in Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla.

“I loved the idea of having an event to incorporate art with my passion for medicine,” she said.

A variety of pieces from local and professional artists, including some from Lew herself, were auctioned off throughout the night. Other, non-art items were also auctioned, such as tennis and ballroom dancing lessons and even a promissory note for a 25-person paella meal from Eduardo Sainz, the family friend who inspired the auction.

On Monday, she took her $31,145 in proceeds and handed it to UF’s Paul J. Reier and his colleagues in the form of a comically large, lavender-colored check.

Lew said she chose Reier due to his research in spinal cord injuries at UF’s McKnight Brain Institute.

She invited Reier to the auction, where he got to meet Sainz.

“I know it’s corny, but it’s always nice to put a face to things we’re working on,” Reier said.

The money will be used on something that has a long lifetime, such as a new piece of equipment, he said. A plaque with Sainz’ name will accompany whatever the money is used for.

Lew’s Art for Hope gallery was the second fundraiser she’s spearheaded. The first, Art for the Heart, raised roughly $11,000 for cardiovascular research in 2012.

After receiving waves of positive feedback for her first gallery, Lew planned on hosting a second in two years. She was still considering research fields for her next fundraiser when she heard the news of Sainz’ accident.

Sainz, a 54-year-old Leesburg, Fla., resident, was on his way home from work when he stopped at a red light behind another car. The driver of a vehicle behind Sainz’ car failed to break, hitting him at full speed and effectively sandwiching him between the two vehicles.

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Sainz said he applauds Lew for her dedication to the cause and hopes more people will follow her. He’s known Lew “since she was a little one.”

“We need more people like her,” he said. “Research is the only future for people like me.”

[A version of this story ran on page 1 on 2/4/2014 under the headline "UF senior sells art to fundraise for research"]

Alicia Lew presents a check on Monday afternoon at the McKnight Brain Institute to Paul J. Reier, who said he wants to buy new equipment.

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