RMMSC medical director Dr. Timothy Vollmer, Gala Chair Suzanne Hickox, keynote speaker Adam Writer and wife Adrine. Photos by Scottie Taylor Iversonv
In 1978, neurologist Dr. Jack Burke and patient N. Daren Writer founded Rocky Mountain MS Center (RMMSC). The first patients were seen at University of Colorado Hospital and Denver Veterans Affairs Hospital. In 1979, the Nobel Prize for Medicine was awarded to the creators of the CT scan – giving humans the first detailed look inside the living brain. The scans would show Multiple Sclerosis (MS) lesions and changed the way Multiple Sclerosis was diagnosed. In 1988, RMMSC moved to Swedish Hospital in Englewood. In 1997, Dr. John Corboy established the University of Colorado MS Center and set up an MS Clinic at Denver Health. In 2000, Corboy began seeing patients at Denver VA Hospital. In 2011, the CU Department of Neurology centralized clinical research with Dr. Timothy Vollmer as vice chair for clinical research and obtained an NHI grant to participate in clinical trials for rare disorders. In 2018, RMMSC at CU now serves 4,500 patients – estimated to be half of all Coloradans living with MS and representing 25 percent growth since 2010.
Tye and Dayla Newberry, Lee Bowen and fiancée Louise Richardson
“We lead with our mission and Suzanne Hickox’s passion is contagious,” said CEO Gina Ensrud of this year’s gala chair. “Mark Johnson who chaired the corporate committee hit it out of the park and surpassed our goal. The money we raise stays right here in Colorado and offers the greatest gift of all – hope!” said Hickox. She wanted the audience to know that although the gala had her name on it, the committee, including Auction Chair Claudia Miller, deserved the kudos. She also shared the touching story of the year 2015, when she herself was diagnosed with MS. Her cousin, Arlene Mohler Johnson happened to be chair of that year’s MS Gala and of course, made sure Hickox had a direct pipeline to the best care.
Keynote speaker Adam Writer, son of RMMSC founder N. Daren Writer, shared the story of his father’s journey. “It was a relief to know a name for his symptoms, “said Writer. When he asked his dad what it felt like, he said: “It feels like someone is standing over me beating my legs with a baseball bat.” Writer explained that in his father’s time, treating MS was basically pain management and that 40 years later, there is combination therapy that appears to stop progression. “My father would be amazed at what RMMSC has done.” He left the other 554 attendees with a quote from Bruce Wayne: “It’s not what we say, but what we do that defines us.” The record-breaking event raised approximately $340,000. Auctioneer Gary Corbett’s appeal portion alone raised $101,000. The RMMSC’s tagline is the answer is here. It’s Mission is: To improve the lives of individuals and their families living with MS and related neurological diseases through care, support, education and research.
Gala Corporate Chair Mark Johnson and his cousin Suzanne Hickox
Board of Directors Chair Del Arnold, RMMSC CEO Gina Ensrud
Gail Coors and Arlene Mohler Johnson
Matt Moriarity standing behind his wife Michelle, her mom – Carla McElroy; Chris Walling standing behind his mom Sandee – a star in the RMMSC video and looking younger every day.
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