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FROM THE EDITOR'S PEN  /From Paducah to Aiken/  Editorial List

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From Paducah to Aiken

This month, I was honored to be the keynote speaker at a conference for family caregivers in Paducah, Kentucky and was happy to see that the Summer of Respite is in full swing in the Bluegrass State.  When I asked if anyone takes respite breaks as they care for loved ones, not only did a gratifying amount of hands raise, but the ideas were flying across the room from caregiver to caregiver.  One caregiver had developed an extensive informal support network while another spoke about being careful to involve her extended family and actually brought her granddaughter to the conference (“So she could learn how to care for me someday”).  Oh, by the way, I am now an official Duke of Paducah and have the mayor’s proclamation hanging in my office to prove my royal designation.

I’d also like to offer a big round of applause to Mrs. Rosalynn Carter and The Rosalyn Carter Institute for their magnificent inaugural Celebration of Caregivers Gala. Despite a torrential Atlanta summer storm, the institute was able to gather 1,700 celebrants for an evening which could compete with the Oscars, celebrating professional caregivers from across the nation.  The MC was Neil Sulman, M.D. of “Doc Hollywood” Fame, by Ms. Carter’s side was President Carter and the headline entertainer was American Idol star, Clay Aiken.  But the stars of the evening were the professional caregivers honored at the gala: Nurse's Aide/Patient Care Technician-Beverly H. Christman, of Allentown, Penn; Licensed Practical Nurse-Scott Law of Virginia Beach, Va; Certified Nursing Assistant-Gayle Were of Minot, N.D. and Home Health Aide-Raschanda Cunningham of Independence, Ohio. The videos produced about them also rivaled Hollywood. Not a dry eye in the house.    

To hear the audience roar when Clay’s name was mentioned, you would think the room was packed solely with Aiken fans, but when asked how many audience members were caregivers, nearly two thirds of the audience stood up.  The only conclusion to draw was that the room was packed with caregiving Clay Aiken fans, which certainly makes sense to me.  I did get a chance to spend time with Clay backstage for our July cover interview.  We talk about the newly formed Bubel/Aiken Foundation to support children with Developmental Disabilities. As a recent graduate with a degree in Special Education it is nice to see he takes his role as educator to heart.


Take care

Gary Barg

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