Promoting adult stem cell research with business savvy

COLUMBIA — Bill Schneeberger, CEO and founder of BOGO wine, had an unusual mission during his April visits to Columbia, Charleston and Greenville. The pro-life businessman wanted to introduce South Carolina to affordable Italian wines and educate Catholics about adult stem cell research.

Not two topics that usually go together, but Schneeberger found a way to unite his business savvy with his desire to evangelize. One could say he is the Paul Newman of adult stem cell research, with 10 percent of his company profits reserved for researching  the life-saving cause for the born and the unborn.

The decorative logo found on every bottle of BOGO wine depicts two hearts and was created in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Thanks to Schneeberger, this logo is now the official, trademarked marketing symbol for all consumer goods and services involved with adult stem cell research.

As a champion of adult stem cell research, Schneeberger has been invited to speak at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and in various dioceses throughout the country. He has been recognized by organizations like the John Paul II Stem Cell Research Institute; Do No Harm: The Coalition of Americans for Research Ethics; Priests for Life; The Family Research Council; and the Knights of Columbus.

He was recently a guest on EWTN’s “The Abundant Life” and was interviewed by S.C. Catholic Radio during his April visit.

“Bill made us much more aware of what adult stem cell research has to offer with over 73 cures and therapies, contrasted with embryonic stem cell research which has not produced a single cure,” said Bob McClure.

McClure and his wife Vickie, president of the Catholics for Greater Activity, helped organize a luncheon on April 9 at Corpus Christi Church in Lexington. The group also sampled BOGO’s three wine varieties: Rosso, a “Super Red”, a medium-bodied Pinot Grigio and the popular Rosato.

As Schneeberger tours around the country,  he said he is astounded by the lack of information people have on the topic of stem cell research. Most are unaware of the difference between adult and embryonic stem cells, which is the difference between life and death.

“Embryonic stem cells (used for research) come from an embryo that is only 5-7 days old which requires the death of each and every embryo. Adult stem cells, an ethical alternative, can be collected from umbilical cords following birth as well as from an individual’s body tissues throughout his or her lifetime,” Schneeberger said.

Most of the media hype surrounds  embryonic stem cell research, despite the fact that there has not been one successful therapy or cure, he said.  Schneeberger provides one possible reason for the bias based on a quote from Dr. Geoffrey Raisman, head of  the neurobiology division at the National Institute of Medical Research in London and an adult stem cell researcher.

 “Adult stem cell research is not the most popular way of attempting to heal spinal injuries (because it does not) produce patented chemicals, which drug companies can make and sell. … We’re producing a procedure where the patient is their own cure. You can’t patent a patient’s own cells,” Raisman said.

Amanda Inman, a graduate student in geography who attended a talk at the St. Thomas More Center–USC on April 10, said she was inspired to join Schneeberger in spreading the word across the college campus.

“We need to have a trifold with this information in it, to pass out to students,” she said.

Zach Dorsch, director of Christian Formation at St. Thomas More, and Father Marcin Zahuta, chaplain and campus minister, invited Schneeberger to speak to the Newman Club.

“During his presentation, he was willing to stop and answer questions and the students really appreciated that,” Dorsch said.

Schneeberger also gave a presentation for the St. Joseph Respect Life Committee in Columbia and was the guest speaker for the first Catholic Business Breakfast in the upstate.

He concluded his tour with the keynote address at the S.C. Catholic Women’s Conference in Charleston on April 12, where he received a standing ovation from the crowd of over 200 women.

“He educated us in a simple and direct way about adult stem cell research and brought clarity of what was going on, sharing stories of actually cures and therapies from adult stem cells,” said Gary Towry from Mediatrix Radio.

Mediatrix sponsored the breakfast at the Thorn Lake Country Club on April 11, which over 65 people attended.

“My original business plan was to spend 90 percent of my time selling fine wine and 10 percent helping educate individuals as to the benefits of adult stem cell research, but that has flip-flopped,” said Schneeberger. “BOGO Wines now spends much of its time educating the American public via event sponsorship, speaking engagements and a bi-monthly e-newsletter addressing the stem cell landscape.”

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