Although we are still somewhat in a state of shock, my friend and colleague, Kate Kelsall, and I would like to share with you the most recent turn of events with respect to our efforts to attend the upcoming 2nd quadrennial World Parkinson Congress (the "2nd WPC"), which is scheduled to take place in Glasgow, Scotland September 28 - October 1, 2010.
As many of you may know, Kate and I, together with Dr. Olga Klepitskaya, movement disorder neurologist and DBS specialist at the University of Colorado Hospital ("UCH"), and Dr. Cynthia McRae, professor of counseling psychology at the University of Denver, submitted an abstract for consideration for presentation at the 2nd WPC.
The abstract, which is entitled "Role of Patient Support in Shaping Expectations and Decision Making for DBS Surgery," is based on the the volunteer services which Kate and I provide at UCH to patients who are selected for DBS surgery at that medical facility and their families, as well as our work in connection with the Bionic Brigade, formerly known as the Denver DBS support group, whose membership has grown to include more than 220 individuals since its formation in October, 2006. On May 20th of this year, we received notice that the abstract which we had submitted had in fact been selected for presentation at the 2nd WPC.
At approximately the same time, Kate and I decided to incorporate as a Colorado nonprofit corporation and to apply for federal tax-exempt status pursuant to section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, with the ultimate goal of expanding the services which we provide to the PD/DBS communities and putting ourselves in a better position to seek grants from other organizations to offset the expenses which Kate and I have personally borne in connection with our volunteer work. In need of professional assistance with these tasks, we contacted LeeAnn Fowler, an attorney and shareholder at the law firm at which I was employed in 2002 prior to my DBS surgeries Brownstein/Hyatt/ Farber/Shreck ("BHFS"), who serves on the Board of Directors for the Parkinson's Association of the Rockies. LeeAnn was able to persuade her colleagues at BHFS to render the necessary legal services to Kate and me on a pro bono basis. With the able assistance of our BHFS attorneys, Andrew Elliott and Matthew "Matt" Maxwell, both of these tasks have now been accomplished and we are simply awaiting receipt of a determination letter from the IRS confirming the tax-exempt status of our new company, DBS Voices of the Rockies, a Colorado nonprofit corporation.
From that moment on, Kate and I have worked feverishly to make our dream of attending the 2nd WPC a reality. On July 12, 2010, we were notified by Elizabeth "Eli" Pollard, Congress Manager for the 2nd WPC, that the WPC had granted us each a travel scholarship which would pay for our hotel accommodations in Glasgow during the conference, as well as provide us with a modest stipend for meals and miscellaneous other expenses. However, we still faced significant hurdles with respect to covering other associated expenses, including, perhaps, most daunting of all, the cost of airfare to and from the conference, which presently amounts to approximately $1,900 each.
As luck would have it, just about the time we had lost all hope of being able to attend the 2nd WPC, Kate and I were serendipitously introduced by Kate's friend and local author, writing coach and instructor, Shari Caudron, approximately two weeks ago to another woman, much more recently diagnosed with Parkinson's than either of us, by the name of Diane Marty. In a matter of mere days, Diane was able to accomplish what Kate and I had been unable to do in months.
Largely due to her own silver tongue, indefatigable energy and enviable rolodex of other influential dynamos, Diane was able to enlist the help of her friend, Mimi Schaefer, who personally took it upon herself to make our case by email which she sent directly to the Chairman, President and CEO of UAL Corporation, Glenn Tilton, when her efforts to discuss the matter with him by phone were rebuffed by his staff. Mr. Tilton was apparently so favorably impressed that he personally responded by agreeing that the company, together with the 55,000 Mileage Plus miles so generously donated by both fellow DBS group member, Helen Ridge, and Diane's brother, Bob Jacomet, would provide Kate and I with round trip tickets to the conference in Scotland!
This newsworthy event was confirmed when the e-ticket receipt and travel itinerary were delivered by United Airlines to Kate and me by email last week.
We report the foregoing facts to you as proof positive that miracles do indeed occur!
Needless to say, we owe a profound debt of gratitude to Drs. Klepitskaya and Dr. McRae, without whose guidance and support we would never have even considered attending the 2nd WPC, much less submitting an abstract for presentation at the conference. We also feel infinitely blessed by the remarkable contributions so selflessly made for our benefit by Shari Caudron, Diane Marty, Mimi Schaefer, Bob Jacomet and Helen Ridge, as well as those made by Eli Pollard on behalf of the WPC and Mr. Glenn Tilton on behalf of UAL, not to mention the diligent efforts of LeeAnn Fowler, Andrew Elliott and Matt Maxwell on behalf of BHFS.
In addition, however, we also wish to extend our heartfelt thanks to you,our friends,family and acquaintances, who have each contributed in your own inimitable fashion in one way or another to make this trip a reality for Kate and me!!
Kate and I will be departing for our grand adventure to Scotland on Sunday, September 26th and are presently scheduled to return to Denver on Sunday, October 3rd.We will, of course, report back to you regarding the week's activities upon our return.
If you would like further information regarding the 2nd World Parkinson Congress, please click on the following link: www.worldpdcongress.org.
With grateful appreciation,
Valerie & Kate