It only takes a little research to understand why people who volunteer to be “locked up” as a fundraiser for the Muscular Dystrophy Association become passionate advocates for the families who deal with this incurable group of diseases.
That’s what two of this year’s participants – longtime community volunteer Bliss Bruen and Durango City Councilor Sweetie Marbury – told me, and I imagine the third, retired Durango High School teacher and Democratic candidate for the 59th District House seat Barbara McLachlan, would have concurred had I had time to talk to her as well.
“The ‘Lock Up’ is a metaphor for what it’s like to have a neuromotor disease, it’s like being locked up or I would think shut down ...” Bruen said. “Personally, saying yes to participate in a ‘Lock Up’ campaign was so enlightening. I just never knew much of anything beforehand. Barraged by causes we know to be worthy and urgent – when you commit to concentrate on just one you have to learn, and that alone (if you have some empathy) will be life-changing. If you’re going to ask friends and family to help you raise the kind of money needed ($800 sends one kid to camp) you do your homework.”
One thing Bruen learned was that there are at least 47 different motor-neuron diseases – including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
“And you start to see – through the MDA’s YouTube Channel and websites – just what a diagnosis can mean,” she said. “For starters, without a cure, it’s a life sentence that will affect every day of the child or individual’s life and the family who become caretakers and must depend on neighbors, friends, professionals, whoever will take an interest, take the time to understand what’s needed, etc.”
The other part of the story, Bruen said, was the personal stories of local families who deal with these conditions every single day.
I know our newsroom became involved after Irma Rodebaugh, our former colleague Dale Rodebaugh’s wife, was diagnosed with ALS and died of the degenerative condition last summer. Much of our community became engaged last year during the Ice Bucket Challenges, when people including Linda Mack Berven, musical director of the Durango Choral Society, and the management of First National Bank of Durango, to name just a few, volunteered for a chilling drenching to raise money for the cause.
The money Bruen, Marbury and McLachlan raised, along with other general contributions raised through the MDA campaign – a total of more than $65,000 according to Kendall Montagriff, the organizer for our area, will go to help local families dealing with these diseases. But all three Durango women need some help from the community to make their personal goals – $1,600 – and you can donate by visiting www2.mda.org/site/TR?fr_id=20650&pg=pfind and searching for them.
HHHOK, so the February birthdays were balmy, and the end of March birthdays are wintry for Lee Ann Harbison, Charlie Buhl, Brian Drover, Sara Tyler, Melissa Watt, Jane Wright, Charlie Kolb, John Stordahl, Rhonda Polsfut, Scott Kuhn, John Kessell, Jim Welch, Janice Martin, Lacy Williams, Mary Catherine Baty, David Best III, Micah Priest, Dorman McShan, Steve Owen, Lauren Trlica, Suzanne Sutherland and Julia Ranasinghe.
HHHIf you haven’t bought your ticket yet, the countdown is on for the finals of the Durango Voice, which is taking place at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Henry Strater Theatre. I have heard the audience is in for a treat after the singers have been working with their coaches for the last month.
Since they were all pretty impressive at the semifinals, I can’t imagine what they will be like after some polishing.
And since this is a fundraiser for Manna Soup Kitchen, it will be entertaining and sweet all around.
Tickets are $35 and are available at http://henrystratertheatre.tix.com.
HHHSaturday marked one of my favorite events during the year, the Durango Chapter of the American Association of University Women’s Book & Author Luncheon, which featured Tekla Dennison Miller and her book Mother Rabbit, the tale of her sister, Alyce Bonura’s, stint as a Bunny Mother at the Chicago Playboy Club in the 1960s.
Susan Koonce introduced her long-time friend, for whom this was the fifth book published. Miller may be best known for her memoir The Warden Wore Pink. The themes of young women – many of them single mothers – that Bonura looked out for in an environment where sexual harassment from male managers was often a norm echoed themes of women’s experiences who had been incarcerated in the multilevel women’s prison Miller oversaw in her warden days.
Judy Spolum chaired the organizing committee that included Katherine Burgess, Marcy Jung, Marilyn Sandstrom and Grace Deltscheff.
Teresa Jordan continued her streak creating charming centerpieces based on the theme of the book selected. In this case, they were jars of jelly beans (in honor of the other bunny of the season, the Easter Bunny) with bunny ears and a tiny black bow tie around the lid.
Funds raised at the luncheon go toward endowing AAUW’s third scholarship at Fort Lewis College, the Cheryl Jackson Scholarship. Andrea Dalla, who was awarded the Virginia Shoser Scholarship this year, coincidentally knew Shoser, so that was a nice touch. The third, which is also fully endowed, is the Janet Watson Scholarship.
HHHBreaking out the umbrella built for two for their anniversaries are Jack and Lauri Kloepfer, Karen and Geoff Overington and Ken and Paula Seay.