When producer Gordon Gray and his wife Kristen revealed that their two young daughters had been diagnosed with Batten disease, an extremely rare degenerative brain disorder for which there is no cure, the Hollywood community rallied around them to raise awareness and funds.
On Wednesday, Jennifer Garner, an early supporter of the family, held a fundraiser to support the Charlotte and Gwenyth Gray Foundation and its mission of raising the $10-12 million needed to accelerate research and find potential treatments for the disease.
“Kristen and Gordon Gray are not going to let us avert our eyes from their daughters’ condition,” Garner said. “In the middle of their pain and grief, they are going to face the facts of Batten disease and look us in the eye and ask us to join them in the fight.”
The couple’s young daughters, Charlotte, 4, and Gwenyth, 2, were diagnosed with late-infantile-NCL Batten disease in March. Batten disease is rapidly progressing and causes developmental regression, blindness, changes in behavior, seizures and dementia.
The symptoms have already onset in Charlotte, who is experiencing trouble with speech and muscle control, while younger sister Gwenyth has tested positive.
“We need the money yesterday,” Gordon, 50, told PEOPLE in June. “Every day is worse than the day before. It’s a degenerative disease and we just need to get started now.”
Thanks to the generosity displayed at the fundraiser, the Grays tell PEOPLE that their foundation is “very close” to the 3 million dollar mark.
“We still have a way to go, but each event brings awareness, touches new people and helps spread out message which is that we want to cure this horrible disease so that no other child will suffer,” the Grays said in a statement to PEOPLE.
“It is wonderful to see how invested Jennifer is in not only to our cause but also other rare diseases,” they continued. “She is so open and willing to help in any way and for that we are very grateful.”
Visit curebatten.org to learn more.