Esman Foundation Big Footprint Benefits AF

The Saul and Theresa Esman Foundation has been a generous supporter of The Arthritis Foundation (AF) since 2009. The Foundation donated $125,000 before they pledged $80,000 in 2012, followed by another $80,000 donation in 2013. And they plan another donation in 2014.

‘‘The Esman Foundation donations funded camps and Walk to Cure Arthritis events during 2012 and 2013,’’ says Rick Willis, senior vice president, Strategic Affairs at the Arthritis Foundation National Office.

“The walks raise funds for arthritis—the nation’s leading cause of disability—and awareness that the organization is working toward a cure,’’ explains Esman Foundation Executive Director Murray Levin, who manages the fund’s portfolio.  

The Saul and Theresa Esman Foundation was created by Theresa Esman in 2008 after Saul, her husband of 50 years, passed away. The couple lived in South Florida after Saul sold his sporting goods business in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. That’s when the Esmans began their legacy of charitable giving to fight diseases. In addition to arthritis, the Foundation donates to 13 other charitable organizations, funding research in Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, epilepsy and cancer, among others.

‘‘Because of changing financial conditions and drastically low interest rates, we aren’t making any more multi-year donations, but our ‘‘moral’’ pledge to the Arthritis Foundation stands. I met the Arthritis Foundation President and CEO Ann Palmer, who’s shown what a caring person she is. She’s doing a great job. We’re going to continue to participate and support AF.

“I’ve attended dinners and seen children ages six and seven with juvenile arthritis,” observes Levin. Mrs. Esman and I both have osteoarthritis so we understand the nature of the disease.  I have arthritis in the shoulder, which came as a result of an injury I got competing in weightlifting. Theresa is approaching 90 and she has arthritis in the hip area.”

Humanitarian Causes

Levin notes that the Arthritis Foundation magazine has a lot of helpful hints on diet and exercise. Levin, 86, who has exercised all his life, still rides a bike, swims, lifts weights and walks, which he says is extremely important. “The worst thing you can do is sit still. The body and the brain have to be moving all the time.

“When Saul’s health started deteriorating in 1999, we set up a trust and the Foundation,” says Levin. “We met with the executive directors of each of the disease organizations, asked what we could do to support them, and made regular trips to see what their needs were. I fell in love with the charity (AF), attended some lunches and started donating money.

“We each leave a footprint before we leave this earth,” states Levin.  “I believe this is their legacy as well as mine. Saul Esman was a self-made man and was very philanthropic throughout his life. He was a client and close friend of mine for 20 years when he died in 1999. When Theresa became widowed, he made me promise I’d look after her and the Foundation.”  

Levin says that Mrs. Esman, a resident of Bal Harbour, Florida, still participates on the board.  “She enjoys the things that have happened and the good the Foundation is doing to affect people’s lives. I believe her husband is up there smiling. He would very much approve of what we’re doing with the money.”