The sky was the limit for the 25th Anniversary of the Colorado Neurological Institute (CNI)  celebrating more than two decades of service at it’s annual Gala held at the Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum, Saturday, October 12.

CNI Executive Director Tami Lack greeted guests while staff and board members mingled with supporters dressed in 1940s attire including military uniforms, zoot suits, fedora and porkpie hats and even a WWII-era nurse uniform sported by society columnist Glory Weisberg. A silent auction and cocktails kept the enormous hangar/event center buzzing with activity in the shadow various aircraft including WWII aircraft. Emcee Amelia Earhart of 9News introduced the crowd to this year’s event theme “Come Fly with CNI” and recognized sponsors, donors and long-time supporters who have kept CNI at the forefront of research, patient care and medical education. Honorary Event Chairs Dr. Peter Ricci and Mrs. Florence Ricci took to the podium to thank supporters and to recognize the efforts of CNI founder neurosurgeon Dr. Gary VanderArk as well as the staff, board and various community sponsors, partners and donors.

The 450 guests listened to the Riccis describe the history of the organization, various economic challenges and noteworthy successes throughout the years. They emphasized that CNI’s formal mission of providing personalized, comprehensive, state-of-the-art care to patients with neurological conditions remains the same. A special anniversary video filmed by Annie Eastman featured CNI’s founders, staff and various programs and medical specialties.

Dr. Ricci lit the CNI’s 25th anniversary cake candles with honors going to Dr. Gary VanderArk who blew out the candles followed by applause and celebratory whistles. In keeping with the 1940s theme the Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra provided favorite Big Band tunes with solo performances by Suzanne Morrison and Doug Barta. Multi-colored lighting flooded the dance floor with guests in vintage clothing enjoying hits made popular by Sinatra, Glenn Miller, and Tommy Dorsey.

Founded in 1988, the Colorado Neurological Institute was formed by the merger of Swedish Medical Center, Craig Hospital and Spalding Rehab Center with founding leadership provided by Dr. VanderArk who worked at Swedish Medical Center in the 1970s and 1980s. Special thanks go to the 25th anniversary event committee comprised of Penny Christie, LaRae Dodson, Joey Fanale, Adrienne Ruston Fitzgibbons, Debbie Frei, Julie “Iggy” Ignaszewski, Pat Lee, Lisa Loy, Barbara Parks, Deb Quintana, Shauna Runchey, Dr. Gary and Phyllis VanderArk, Terry Vitale, Mikki Wilder and many volunteers.

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