The Martin Agency believes it is uniquely qualified to handle a pro bono campaign for Andrew's Buddies, a nonprofit organization trying to find a cure for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). The disease is the No. 1 inherited cause of death among children less than 2 years of age.
The agency's president of public relations, Joe Slay, launched the group in 1991. His son Andrew, 13, still battles SMA. The copywriter on the campaign, Joe Nagy, survived a severe brain tumor two years ago.
The media department at the Richmond, Va., shop has secured more than $250,000 of free billboard space in 17 U.S. cities, promoting the Buddies' Web site (fightSMA.com). The boards carry images of children who are battling SMA, calling them "fighters . . . warriors . . . soldiers."
"We started Andrew's Buddies in Richmond," said Slay. "Now we've got seven chapters." He added that in 1995 funding for research helped find the gene that causes SMA.