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May 12, 2010 - CNI: Find Your Support and You'll Find Hope

What: Annual Cindy Acree Hope Awards

Where: PPA Event Center

When: Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Time: 5:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

Beneficiary: Colorado Neurological Institute

Staff: Luanne Williams, Scott Barnes, Carol Greenwald, John Stephenson, Charlotte Larue, Mary Catherine Moss, Kristina Anderson, Debra Bandstra, Ellen Belle, Terri Bennett, Diane Erickson, Paula Fisk, Lorre Gibson, Darian Greiner, Juliann Hanson-Zlatev, Johnnie Herman, Huong Hoang, Melissa Holtgrewe, Peggy Hugger, Wade Jensen, Aspen Kunisch, Laura Malatchi, Kristina Markey, Kim Martin, Michelle Menard, Dawn Miracle, Breanna Nickels, Vicki Sergo, Kristi Shaffer, Lee Shaughnessy, Judith Stucky

Catering: Purple Avocado Catering

Sponsors: Dr. Edward Arenson, LaFawn Biddle, Colorado Brain & Spine Institute, Craig Hospital, Ruth Disher, Rick and Robin Fort, ITN Energy Systems Inc/ Mohan Misra, Dr. Richard and Linda Kelley, Drs. David and Tammie Kelsall, Radiology Imaging Associates, Rocky Mountain Movement Disorders Center, Dr. Don & Jane Smith, Swedish Medical Center, Swedish Medical Center Auxillary, Dr. Karen Theriot

Auctioneer: Doug Tisdale, Esq.

Menu: appetizers

Attendance: 400

Attire: Business Casual

Event Coordinator: Mary Catherine Moss

Board of Directors: Richard Kelley, Don Smith, Lucille Gallagher, Jon Stuck, Doug Tisdale, Edward Arenson, Theron Bell, Lynn Bunnell, Carol Chapman, Ron Eller, Christopher Fanale, Robin Fort, Donald Frei, Stanley Gallery, Lynda Gumeson, Arthur Judd, David Kelsall, Ron Kubit, Bonnie Mandarich, Mohn Misra, Haven Moses, Dennis O'Maley, Peter Ricci, Mary White

Blacktie Photos by: M. Darcy

 Cindy Acree with Doug Tisdale
Cindy Acree with Doug Tisdale

 Find Your Support and You'll Find Hope

Story by M. Darcy


We all have to deal with disorder in our lives.  But what if that disorder is neurological?  Recipients of this year's Cindy Acree Hope Awards on May 12 - an award to honor neurological patients showing great courage, strength  and positive thinking - talked about how crucial it is to build a network of support - no matter what issue you're dealing with.

Brandon Rollings was 15 when he was pronounced profoundly deaf and declining.  He began to consider a cochlear implant and attended the CNI Cochlear Camp for kids.  "I have to admit, I thought it was going to be dorky," he told the audience, "but that's where I found the friends I needed and still have today."  It was the foundation stone of his support network, and it inspired five years of dedicated volunteer work with the camp.  Since then, Brandon's finished college and now works - naturally - in network marketing for Xango. 

Sometimes you need more support than you realize.  And sometimes you get more support than you expect.  When Allison Casias went to see her doctor for headaches, it turned out to be blood clots in her brain.  Two surgeries and multiple complications later, Allison was lost in a coma. Doctors and nurses at Swedish were beside her 50 minutes out of every hour.  Her friends and family were always by her side. What was unusual was that Allison also had a constant police guard outside her door. Or, at least, that's the way it appeared to anyone in the hall who didn't know that Allison was a police officer.  She teared up during her acceptance speech when she said she owed so much to her police academy sargeant.  "I'm told he held my hand and said, 'Casais, you need to hear my voice; dig deep and never give up.'  At that moment I opened my eyes and woke up from the coma; he put the fear of God in me in the academy."  It's a dry and mischievous sense of humor that sets Allison apart.  Fully one quarter of the award ceremony room held her network - about 35 people, most of them on the force.  All of them have her back. Allison is currently a District 4 officer, and she credits most of her amazing recovery to her drive to become a cop again. "My friends and family knew I would never give up," she said.  Allison's fight was never alone.

Patrick Gillian, a Vietnam Veteran who was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor said,  "I know how important it is to have someone say, 'I want to see you make it.'" He's another comic favorite with CNI and Swedish staff.  He founded his own support group, the Hole in the Head Gang at CNI's Center for Brain & Spinal Tumors. "I realized some time ago that my tumors have never just been about me," he explained. They were about making connections and being there for fellow patients. Patrick's tumor is now gone. Coincidence?  "Find your support," he concludes, "and you'll find your hope."

Fred Julander was getting bad advice from a bad network.  He has MS, and doctors back then were merely telling him to "be resigned" with the limitations of his degenerative disease - "just wait it out." He was depressed for several years, but certainly not "resigned."  He found Dr. Timothy Vollmer, who referred him to CNI, and they suggested a "let's do something" approach.  They gave Fred a personalized plan for rehabilitation that included ongoing physical therapy to alleviate his symptoms.  Fred was impressed with their "willingness to find solutions."  It's had a profound effect on both his physical and emotional well-being.  "I actually catch myself thinking about the future with hope.  Whatever you have," Fred advises, "find someone with hope."

CNI also recognized Charlie Daniels, the legendary fiddle player.  While on vacation in Durango, CO, he suffered a stroke.  He blogged about his experience at Swedish and CNI, imploring everyone to pay attention to the warning signs of stroke, and to seek immediate medical assistance.  For his willingness to talk about his personal experience and to educate others, he was given an Honorary Hope Award.  While he was unable to accept the award in person, Charlie wrote, "I am and will always be deeply indebted to the medical professionals who dedicate their lives to giving so many of us the opportunity to go on with our lives after suffering serious illness."

If you'd like to learn more about CNI or the Cindy Acree Hope Awards, go to or call 303-788-4010.  You might also check out their newsletter which gives information about neurological disorders including descriptions of causes and symptoms; up-to-date information on treatments; patient experiences and insights; as well as news about what is happening at Colorado Neurological Institute.




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