Hope Awards Media Release

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Stroke Survivor, Spinal Cord Injury Patient, Cochlear Implant Recipient, Multiple Sclerosis Patient, Brain Tumor Patient and Caregiver Receive 2014 Hope Awards at Annual CNI Event

These individuals have shown great courage while facing life-altering neurological conditions.

When: Thursday, May 1, 2014, 6pm

Where: Pinnacle Club at the Grand Hyatt Denver, 1750 Welton St., Denver, CO 80202

On Saturday, May 1, 2014, at the Pinnacle Club, five patients and one caregiver facing various neurological conditions will be honored for their great courage and inspiration to others at Colorado Neurological Institute’s Cindy Acree Hope Awards event. Award recipients include: Mary L. Dobson (stroke), Ernie Hempel (spinal cord injury), Kimberlee Nanda (brain tumor), Tanny Nanda (Kimberlee’s husband and caregiver), Claire Torres (cochlear implant) and Michael Williams (multiple sclerosis). At the event, the story of these individuals will be told through video, and each person will receive recognition before the audience.

Established in 1999, the Hope Awards Celebration was originally founded in honor of Cindy Acree, who in 1991 underwent brain surgery for epilepsy and suffered a stroke. Despite her medical hurdles, Cindy exhibited tenacity and bravery throughout her recovery, and she continues to work tirelessly to promote awareness for neurological conditions. Ms. Acree is a former Colorado State Representative, past chairman of the CNI Board of Directors and a major contributor to CNI’s volunteer successes. The Hope Award is named for her daughter, Hope, another example of Cindy’s miracles.

Support for this event enables integrated, collaborative care, state-of-the-art treatment, patient assistance, outpatient rehabilitation services, support groups, chronic disease management training, community education programs, cutting edge research, ongoing publications and more.

More information can be found at www.thecni.org, or contact Melissa Kenyon at 303-357-5442, mkenyon@thecni.org.

2014 Hope Award Bios:

Mary L. Dobson, Stroke Survivor: On July 24th 2013, Mary Dobson developed an acute onset of right sided weakness and an inability to speak. Mary received treatment at her local emergency room and was then transferred to the Interventional Neuro-Radiology department at Swedish Medical Center for intra-arterial treatment. It was determined that Mary experienced a significant ischemic stroke, yet upon discharge, she was mostly independent in every aspect of daily life. Mary remained optimistic and courageous throughout the recovery process, and has now begun to educate others through public speaking engagements about the importance of acting FAST when a stroke occurs.  FAST is acronym for recognizing a stroke and reacting quickly: Face (drooping on one side), Arm (control lost in one arm), Speech (slurred), Time (get to a hospital quickly). An ischemic stroke occurs when an artery to the brain is blocked. Nominated By: Swedish Medical Center Stroke Team; Treating Physicians: Chris Fanale, MD and Russell Bart, MD

Ernie Hempel, Spinal Cord Injury: Since experiencing a C5-6 spinal cord injury in 2002, Ernie has worked extremely hard to improve his independence and mobility. He has undergone difficult treatment and rehab at Craig Hospital, and more recently, Ernie has sought outpatient rehab at CNI’s Neurohealth Center.  Despite his circumstances, Ernie never feels sorry for himself. His ambition and cheerfulness is truly commendable. “You just can’t help but smile when you interact with Ernie. His most common response to a therapy suggestion is ‘wonderful, wonderful,’ ” says Dottie Tarvestad, a Physical Therapist at CNI.  An incomplete spinal cord injury can result in weakness and sensory changes in the trunk, arms and legs, leading to limited mobility and often requiring assist for routine activities. Nominated By: Dottie Tarvestad, PT and Kristina Anderson, OTR (CNI Neurohealth Center); Treating Physicians: Marc Treihaft, MD and Craig Hospital

Claire Torres, Cochlear Implant Recipient:  It wasn’t until Claire entered the third grade that her parents learned that she required further attention from a hearing specialist due to a hearing disorder. Knowing that preventing her daughter’s hearing from worsening was crucial, Claire’s mother took her to see CNI associate and cochlear implant surgeon, Dr. Daniel Zeitler. Little did the family know, their introduction to the world of cochlear implants would ultimately allow Claire to blossom into the outgoing, spirited jokester she is today. In Dr. Zeitler’s experience as a surgeon, implantation for single-sided deafness is less common and less understood in comparison to bilateral surgery. He is amazed by Claire’s ability to adjust to the technological device. Claire will be attending CNI Cochlear Kids Camp this summer and she enjoys educating others about her cochlear implant. A cochlear implant is a small electronic device that can help to provide sound to a person who is profoundly deaf or severely hard-of-hearing. Nominated By: Daniel Zeitler, MD

Michael Williams, Multiple Sclerosis: Michael Williams, now 32, was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at age 12.  This is very rare and can be extremely difficult for a child to cope with.  Despite his early diagnosis, Michael has lived a full, active life.  For 20 years, Michael has managed his disease and inspired others with MS to do all they can to live well.  As an adult, he continues living an active life with his wife and child. He even has another baby on the way! In addition, he is a volunteer firefighter; yet another example of his strong spirit and eagerness to contribute to his community. With great humility, Michael regularly gives his time to educational programs. He is a tremendous advocate for individuals with MS. Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system). Nominated By: Allen Bowling, MD

Kimberlee and Tanny Nanda, Brain Tumor Patient and Caregiver: In 2011, Kim was diagnosed with a medulloblastoma after experiencing symptoms of poor balance, left sided weakness and difficulty speaking. Kim underwent surgery in October of 2011, and then spent the next four weeks fighting to regain basic functions like speech, swallowing and walking. Even when Kim had to travel to Kansas for radiation treatment, she never gave up.Medulloblastoma is a fast-growing, high-grade tumor located in the cerebellum.

Tanny Nanda, Kimberlee’s husband, has been there for his wife through thick and thin. He attends almost all of her appointments with Dr. Arenson, celebrates the “good” MRI scans, and is a major source of encouragement. To be closer to family and medical resources, Tanny moved Kimberlee and himself from the western slope to the Denver area. There isn’t anything he wouldn’t do for his wife.  He is an active health advocate, committed partner and inspiring caregiver.

Nominated By: Peggy Hugger, RN (CNI); Treating Physician: Edward Arenson, MD

About Colorado Neurological Institute

Colorado Neurological Institute (CNI) has been providing research, education and patient services for persons with neurological conditions and their caregivers since 1988.  As the only nonprofit organization in the Rocky Mountain Region of its kind, CNI offer patients easy access to comprehensive, state-of-the-art care, support services, clinical trials, outpatient neuro-rehab, counseling and more. Learn more at www.thecni.org.

Contact: Melissa Kenyon, mkenyon@thecni.org, 303-357-5442


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Colorado Neurological Insitute