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Al Copeland Day Lives on Through Efforts To Cure Merkel Cell Carcinoma

20th Anniversary of Al Copeland Day Honored with $150K Donation to the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute

NEW ORLEANS, June 30 /PRNewswire/ -- After losing a battle to Merkel Cell Carcinoma, an aggressive and deadly form of skin cancer, the memory of Al Copeland will be honored through a donation by the Al Copeland Foundation to the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) on the 20th-anniversary of the Al Copeland Day on June 28, 2009.

Al Copeland Day was first established on June 28, 1989 in both the city of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana when a $1 million Alvin C. Copeland Endowed Chair of Franchising was established at Louisiana State University. As part of the Eminent Scholars Program, the endowment provides for the development of a full curriculum of franchising studies at both the undergraduate and graduate level.

Prior to his death, legendary restaurateur Al Copeland's last wish was for his family to help find a cure for Merkel Cell Carcinoma, occurring in only 1,500 Americans annually. Mr. Copeland's children have honored his final wish with the establishment of the Al Copeland Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating this rare and deadly form of cancer. Since the passing of Mr. Copeland, the Al Copeland Foundation has donated $250K to UPCI, bringing the total contribution to $400K to date.

The scientists at University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have made tremendous progress towards Merkel Cell research. In a paper published in the January 2008 edition of Science, University of Pittsburgh scientists Dr. Patrick Moore and his wife, Dr. Yuan Chang, who co-directs their lab, found evidence that the Merkel Cell polyomavirus (MCV), a virus they recently discovered, causes most cases of Merkel Cell Carcinoma. Support from the Al Copeland Foundation has allowed Drs. Chang and Moore to develop two different tests to detect MCV infection.

"On the anniversary of Al Copeland Day, it's very symbolic to be making a donation towards research to eliminate the cancer that took my father's life," said Charli Copeland Womac, Mr. Copeland's daughter and co-president of the Al Copeland Foundation. "Al Copeland Day was crowned by the State of Louisiana on June 28, 1989 for his dedication to philanthropy and his beloved community. As a result his legacy will live on with our continued efforts."

Since the untimely passing of Mr. Copeland's battle with cancer, Charli Copeland Womac and her sister Alisha Copeland have dedicated their time and efforts to raising funds for research that will lead to a cure for Merkel Cell Carcinoma as co-presidents of the Al Copeland Foundation.

"If our father was alive today, he would be very proud of the work we're doing to eradicate Merkel Cell Carcinoma," added Alisha Copeland, co-president of the Al Copeland Foundation "Today is not only a day to remember his philanthropic side, but also to create awareness about the cancer that took his life."

To learn more about the Al Copeland Foundation, please log onto

About Al Copeland Investments (ACI)

Founded by legendary restaurateur Al Copeland, Al Copeland Investments (ACI) is one of the premium names in the hospitality industry owning a number of leading food, restaurant and entertainment enterprises. The ACI family of companies includes 50 restaurants, hotels and comedy clubs throughout the United States, including Diversified Food and Seasonings, Copeland's of New Orleans, Copeland's Cheesecake Bistro, Copeland's Social City and the Improv Comedy Club & Dinner Theater, among others. An icon in Southern cuisine and the founder of Popeye's Famous Fried Chicken & Biscuits Restaurants, Al Copeland's memory lives on through the Al Copeland Foundation which is dedicated to the eradication of Merkel Cell Carcinoma, the disease that took Copeland's life. For more information on ACI and the Al Copeland Foundation, visit and

SOURCE Al Copeland Investments
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