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May 11, 2011 - ADMHN Brings Author Pete Earley to Annual Luncheon

What: Annual fundraiser for Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network

Where: Inverness Hotel and Conference Center

When: Thursday, May 12, 2011

Time: 11:00 a.m. booksigning; 11:30 luncheon

Ticket Prices: $75; sponsorships $1,000-$5,000

Beneficiary: Clients in need at Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network

Mistress of Ceremonies: April Zesbaugh of 850 KOA

Honoree(s): Distinguished Service Awards: Carol Chambers, 18th Judicial District Attorney and James O'Connor, Arapahoe County Public Defender; Community Hero Award: Chris Orloski

EMCEE: April Zesbaugh of 850 KOA

Executive Director: and CEO: Scott Thoemke, MEd, CAC III

Staff: Joan DiMaria, MSN, RN, CNS, CAC III, Chief Operating Officer; Nik Golosow, MD, Medical Director; Michael Ellis, Chief Financial Officer; Eric Moore, Chief Information Officer; Maria Herriges, Human Resources Director; Laurie Elliott, LCSW, Clinical Director; Lisa Traudt, LMFT, Managed Care and Quality Improvement Director; Meryl Glickman, MS, MSED, Marketing Director; Carolyn Moershel, Development Director

Sponsors: HOPE SPONSORS: Citywide Banks, Gay & Lesbian Fund for Colorado, TRUE CHOICE SPONSORS: Infinity Park/City of Glendale, Lockton Inc., Behavioral Healthcare Inc.; VOICE SPONSORS: Addiction Research & Treatment Services, Arapahoe and Douglas Counties, Arapahoe House, Cherry Creek School District, Community Reach Center, Highlands Behavioral Health System, Intermountain Rural Electric Association, Kaiser Permanente, NAMI Arapahoe/Douglas Counties, Signal Behavioral Health Network Inc.; OPPORTUNITY SPONSORS: Delta Dental, Kaiser Permanente, Mercer, UNUM

Menu: Inverness house salad with raspberry Balsamic dressing, grilled marinated London broil with red wine reduction or pasta Primavera in light cream sauce, crisp spring vegetables, lemon chiffon pie with strawberry coulis

Attire: Business

Board of Directors: President: Todd Helvig, PhD; Vice President: Capt. Attila C. Denes; Secretary/Treasurer: John R. Phillips; Past President: Thomas J. Flanagan; Directors: Wayne Barnard, 'Nita Brown, Mario Harding, Robert Ireland, Kelli Kane, Patricia Opper, Jose Reyes, Capt. Vince Sauter, Carla Vellos, Melanie Worley; Arapahoe County Appointed Director: Commissioner Susan Beckman; Douglas County Appointed Director: Barbara Drake; Community Board Member: Tom Burger; Ex-Officio: Scott Thoemke, MEd

Blacktie Photos by: Pamela Cress

 Community Hero recipient Chris Orloski, left, chats with keynote speaker Pete Earley
Community Hero recipient Chris Orloski, left, chats with keynote speaker Pete Earley

There’s a good chance that you – or someone you know – will experience emotional or behavioral challenges at some point.  After all, some form of mental illness affects one out of every five American families each year. It is an equal-opportunity disease that can happen to anyone at any time.  Whether you have anxiety, stress, depression, drug or alcohol addiction, or bipolar disorder — or any other mental health challenge — it doesn’t have to take over your life or your loved ones' lives.

Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network illustrated that point very well in bringing renowned journalist, spy/crime writer and mental health advocate Pete Earley to be the keynote speaker at the 10th annual luncheon Thursday at Inverness Hotel and Conference Center.

Earley spoke from the heart about his family's struggle to help his son after he became ill with bipolar disorder and was arrested for taking a bubble bath in a neighbor's home.  Earley used his personal story to illustrate the need to provide meaningful help for those with mental illness, the challenges of navigating some of the mental health and criminal justice systems in the U.S., and successful community models. Author of three novels and nine non-fiction books including his latest best-seller Crazy, A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness, Earley was one of two finalists for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize and has won awards from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Mental Health America, the Washington Psychiatric Association and the American Psychiatric Association. He is a lifetime member of NAMI and received its Outstanding Media Award for Advocacy in 2007 at its national convention.

Earley's speech was forceful and searing. Even those in the health care field were shocked at some of the conditions he described in his travels and research into conditions and care for the mentally ill. He described scenarios over and over in which unstable people are kept locked up like animals, often naked with no heat, drinking out of toilets for lack of water and exiled into sections where they are all but forgotten because "they are the crazies." People living under bridges, eating their own feces, who can't get help because they are not classified as "dangerous," or even worse, such as in the case with Earley's son, they were categorized as "violent" but not necessarily "dangerous."  And what was most poignant of all is Earley's statement that even with all the research and connections he established, he still, for the longest time, could not get his son the help he needed.

The good news is that his son finally did receive help and is now completely turned around and serves as an advocate for the mentally ill. "As Margaret Mead put it," said Earley, "never doubt a small group of dedicated and committed people can save the world."


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