“Each one of us, either by choice or by chance, has been profoundly touched and our lives improved by a physician’s compassionate and professional care. They are committed to our good health and well-being, and for this we should be grateful.” ~ Jim Edwards, CEO Greater Hazleton Health Alliance
A big thank you to all the wonderful doctors who work and make a difference daily! It’s the perfect opportunity to thank my two specialists who contributed to my great health today!
Dr. Steven E. Kopits was my childhood orthopedic specialist. Dr. Kopits had deep roots in Central Europe as he was born in Hungary. In the 1980s, with HIS establishment of the International Center for Skeletal Dysplasia, as its founder and director, at the St. Joseph Medical Center, Dr. Kopits had become fully absorbed with his lifetime passion: the caring for and healing the orthopedic problems of little people.
I would take annual checkup trips from Boston to Baltimore, where Dr. Kopits practiced medicine, from the age of six months until I was sixteen, when he said he no longer needed to see me. Our first visit was when I was six months old. My mother and father were still so scared at this point because they wanted to make sure that I was going to live a healthy life and nobody had previously reassured them as much as Kopits did the first day they met. Dr. Kopits had a waiting room full of people when we arrived and he was willing to sit down with my parents in order to ease their worries. From that point forward, my mother and father knew that I was going to be just fine. Dr. Kopits performed two surgeries on my legs. One, when I was three where he removed part of the fibulas from both of my legs in order to fix my bowed legs. Then when I was thirteen, about the time when I was at my peak growth, he removed bone from my pelvis and inserted it where bone was first removed when I was three.
Unfortunately after I turned eighteen, Dr. Steven Kopits died at age 65 from a brain tumor, he had been battling for some time. Patients came from all over the world seeking Dr. Kopits’ expertise and compassionate medical care. He’s already missed by so many.
In my opinion, Dr. Benjamin Carson is another miracle doctor. Dr. Carson had a childhood dream of becoming a physician. Growing up in a single parent home with dire poverty, poor grades, a horrible temper, and low self-esteem appeared to preclude the realization of that dream until his mother, with only a third-grade education, challenged her sons to strive for excellence. Now, he’s an internationally acclaimed neurosurgeon best known for leading a surgical team in a successful operation to separate Siamese twins, joined at the brain. In addition, he’s recognized for his expertise in performing hemispherectomies, where half the brain is removed to stop seizures. He is the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University Hospital as well as assistant professor of neurosurgery, oncology, and pediatrics at the School of Medicine. Called the man with gifted hands for his surgical skill, Dr. Carson’s example of overcoming poverty to become a leading scholar and scientist has inspired millions.
In June, 2008, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by the President, which is the highest civilian honor in the land.
Although he has been involved in many newsworthy operations, Dr. Carson feels that every case is noteworthy, deserving of maximum attention. In October 1999, he performed a laminectomy on my back. He successfully removed seven pieces of my vertebrae in order to relieve spinal cord compression. I could have been paralyzed if I decided not to have this surgery or if my spinal cord was damaged during the procedure, but he saved my life.
I owe many thanks to Dr. Stephen Kopits and Dr. Benjamin Carson. They are my true heroes.
Mission of Little People of America (LPA)
LPA is dedicated to improving the quality of life for people with dwarfism throughout their lives while celebrating with great pride Little People’s contribution to social diversity. LPA strives to bring solutions and global awareness to the prominent issues affecting individuals of short stature and their families.
I’ve mentioned this organization in previous posts before, however I wanted to go into a little more detail in this post. It’s relative now more than ever because The 2011 Anaheim California National Convention is taking place this upcoming July 1st through 8th. I’m fortunate enough to serve on the planning committee.
Little People of America, Inc. is a national non-profit organization that provides support and information to people of short stature and their families. It’s the only dwarfism support organization that includes all 200+ forms of dwarfism. There are an estimated 30,000 people with dwarfism in the United States, and 651,700 around the world. No other organization in the world provides more resources, support and information for people with dwarfism. I’ve been actively involved in Little People of America since 2003. My first convention I attended, where I met some of my closest friends today, was in Boston, the summer after my freshman year in college.
Members include average-height parents of a child with dwarfism, adults of all ages with dwarfism, average-height spouses, grandparents, relatives, siblings; and the medical community. We also encompass people of every ethnicity and economic level.
LPA is comprised of 14 Districts (typically made up of one to four states) and within those, 62 Chapters providing services to local areas.
Little People of America is a primarily all-volunteer organization for persons and families involved with the condition of dwarfism. They do not diagnose, treat, or provide genetic counseling. We are involved in peer and parent support, medical resources and referrals, scholarships, and programs that benefit the dwarfism community, while trying to promote education, community outreach, personal and family strength, and life achievements. I plan on integrating LPA and their mission into several of my future awareness initiatives.
LPA offers information on employment, education, disability rights, adoption, medical issues, clothing, adaptive products, and the many stages of parenting a short-statured child - from birth to adult. Information is provided through a national newsletter, the LPA Today, and numerous seminars and workshops which occur locally at chapter events, regionally at District Meetings, and nationally at the yearly national conference. The national conference takes place in a new city each year.
The 2011 LPA Anaheim National Conference is expected to draw 3,000 attendees from throughout the United States and abroad for a week of events, workshops, sight-seeing, learning, and connecting with others in the dwarfism community who face similar life challenges. I feel honored to serve on this year’s conference committee. I’m helping out with the Barty Room (an entertainment room for adults over the age of 21, with a new theme each night of the conference), talent show, and the online fundraiser auction. In addition, I will be speaking about my life experiences at a panel with a speaker whose been a great mentor to me over the past few months. I feel honored to be a part of this amazing organization and I look forward to a great week of reuniting with close friends.
“At the center of transformational change is a transformational leader.” ~Wendy Kopp
Today I had the honor to listen to and watch Wendy Kopp, CEO and Founder of Teach For America speak. My mother is a retired teacher and my sister is still a teacher, so I’m a strong advocate for education. We can solve this problem of educational inequity. Teachers have the ability to provide kids with a tranformational education by approaching the them with a whole lot of energy and doing whatever it takes to get the job done.
“Right now, children growing up in low-income communities do not have the same educational prospects as children in more privileged communities. Socio-economic challenges in low-income communities put added pressure on schools as children come to school with a wide range of needs and disadvantages; yet, our schools and districts do not have the systems, resources and capacity to compensate for these additional challenges. As a result, the educational achievement gap in this country is striking.”
Teach For America’s mission is to build the movement to eliminate educational inequality by recruiting our nation’s most promising future leaders, outstanding recent college graduates of all academic majors, to commit two years to teach in urban and rural public schools and to become lifelong leaders in expanding educational opportunity.
Teach For America serves the students and schools most negatively impacted by this gap in educational outcomes. Teach for America places corps members in 20 urban and rural communities where they exceed traditional expectations to ensure their students progress academically. At the same time, corps members gain the insight and commitment that lead them to be effective lifelong advocates for change from both inside and outside the field of education. Thus, Teach for America is building a powerful movement to eliminate educational inequality, a movement that fuels itself through expanding the opportunities available to children growing up today, and that ultimately aims to effect fundamental, lasting change by addressing the root causes of the problem and implementing systemic solutions.
In her new book, “A Chance to Make History” (www.achancetomakehistory.org), Wendy shares what she has learned in her twenty years at the center of a growing movement to end educational inequity in America.
She advised us to take a moment to reflect on the extent of the disparities in our world, on the fact that those who spend their lives addressing them inevitably come to see their solvability, on the enormous assets we possess due to inexperience, and on the kind of long-term, sustained commitment necessary to see through their complexity and have a chance at actually solving them.
Everyone should check out Wendy’s new book, along with encouraging college students and recent graduates to apply to Teach for America.
My thoughts on the word M*****t are that “Little People” who accept it often say they have a problem with the term “Little People” as if the notion of being little implies a negative or inferior person. Those who have this feeling must ask themselves what about being called little makes you inferior?” Contrary then, the notion of being called Big makes you superior? Logic dictates that bigger does not mean better, so why do we insist that being called little is bad? The M-Word does something that “little” cannot do; it eliminates our humanity. If, as a people, we accept this label and all it traditionally holds for us then we deserve the label. To rebel against it is not only our right but our purpose.