Fun And Philanthropy At CNI Golf Classic


Anyone who might think Colorado Neurological Institute’s annual golf tournament is made up of serious medical professionals would just have to re-boot. This year’s 17th Annual CNI Golf Classic Tournament was full of fun-loving participants from the first tee to the last green, with tunes blasting from golf carts and spontaneous comedy routines among the unofficial tournament antics. There was some good golf happening as well. Within just a couple of holes, at least one team boasted an eagle, and another golfer happily reported: “We just made a birdie … time for a Fireball shot!”

John Gordzac says: Cash. Don't leave home without it.

John Gordzac says: Cash. Don’t leave home without it.

On July 18, around 135 guests made the trek to beautiful Plum Creek Golf Club in Castle Rock to enjoy a day at the scenic course. Golfers ranged from CNI patients and their friends and families to medical executives and sponsor reps, plus anyone who wanted to support the positive work of the organization. The day began with a shotgun start at 8 a.m., and a round of 18 full of numerous hole contests and prizes. The apres-golf luncheon included a live and silent auction, awards and a short program emceed by former Denver Bronco Billy Van Heusen, who also served as auctioneer. Speakers included CNI Executive Director Tami Lack, tournament founder Pat Maley, and co-chairs Dean Mills and Stuart Kitashima.

(l to r): Former Denver Broncos Steve Watson and Billy Van Heusen, Philip Scott, and former Bronco Jack Gehrke

(l to r): Former Denver Broncos Steve Watson and Billy Van Heusen, Philip Scott, and former Bronco Jack Gehrke

The CNI Classic raises funds for those diagnosed with Parkinson’s, ALS, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, stroke survivors, traumatic brain injuries and other disorders, as well as CNI’s research and educational programs. This year’s golf-tournament fundraising goal: $60,000.

Colorado Neurological Institute’s mission is to enhance the delivery of personalized, comprehensive and state-of-the-art care to patients with neurological conditions through coordinated research, patient services and education. CNI, a non-profit neuroscience organization, has been providing research, education and patient services for persons with neurological conditions and their caregivers since 1988. As the only nonprofit organization of its kind in the Rocky Mountain Region, CNI offers patients easy access to comprehensive, state-of-the-art care, support services, clinical trials, outpatient neuro rehab, counseling and more. For more information, please visit:

CNI Spotlight on Hope Awards at Ritz-Carlton


The Colorado Neurological Institute (CNI) this year combined its Hope Awards and Gala into one unique event held at the Denver Ritz-Carlton April 15th to honor surviving patients and dedicated advocates representing Denver’s neurological community. The luxury downtown hotel’s front entrance provided a red carpet experience with strobe lights from enthusiastic paparazzi photographers and loud cheers for guests and honorees entering the hotel’s main lobby.

More than 375 guests packed the hotel mezzanine to honor four special honorees affected by organic brain diseases requiring state-of-the-art surgical procedures, chemo therapies and other treatments.

Presenting Sponsor Radiology Imaging Associates made the annual signature event possible with support from Gold Sponsors— Swedish Medical Center, Bill & Leslie Volbracht, Dr. Richard and Mrs. Linda VG Kelley –and Silver Level Sponsors: Triple B, Craig Hospital, TEVA, Rick & Robin Fort, HealthONE and other individual and corporate supporters.

The annual fundraiser raises money to support patients, research, and education for CNI, a 501(c) (3) organization established to enhance the delivery of personalized, comprehensive, and state-of-the- art care through coordinated patient care, education, research, and outreach activities.

This year’s honored guests were:

Exemplary Neuro Patient: Rick Schwartz–afflicted with Parkinson’s–is a former FOX sportscaster who is active in the community through board leadership with Parkinson’s Disease of the Rockies, speaking engagements and the creation of the new statewide “Boxing for Parkinson’s” program.

Exemplary Neuro Patient & Caregiver (inpatient and outpatient): Mandy & Matt Banks were both impacted by brain health issues. At the age of 28 – 8 months pregnant with her first child– Mandy had a hemorrhagic stroke which nearly took her life. After nearly a year of rehab at CNI, Mandy is back at work and busy mothering her infant son. Mandy and Matt have raised more than $50,000 for the American Heart Association, and have been an inspiration to the Denver community.

“Anything Can Happen” Award for a child who has courageously faced a neurological condition: Charlotte Varney is a 9-year-old brain tumor survivor who has undergone numerous procedures and chemo regiments over the past four years to finally reach her current “cancer free” status.

Neuroscientist of the Year: Multiple Sclerosis clinician Allen Bowling, MD, PhD speaks internationally and gives generously of his time and resources to CNI and the National MS Society. He has published extensively in the area of complimentary and alternative medicine for MS patients.

Established in 1988, CNI offers access to comprehensive, state-of-the-art care, support services, clinical trials, outpatient neuro rehab and counseling. CNI is home to 70 physician and research associates who all work to advance clinical trials into new treatments for MS, Parkinson’s and other brain conditions.

Visit, call 303-788-4010 or email for additional information, to volunteer or make a donation.



16th Annual CNI Golf Tourney at Bear Dance


Golfers don’t use umbrellas.

Oh, what a beautiful day. Typical of our fickle-weathered state, it started out glorious. Every golfer I passed commented on the gorgeous weather and how much fun they were having. The shot-gun kick-off game had everyone starting at the same time at different holes. Scores were important of course, always among foursomes of friends and family who had joined the event knowing their green’s fees were going to this important fundraiser benefitting the Colorado Neurological Institute.

Colorado Neurological Institute (CNI), is a non-profit neuroscience organization. It has  provided research, education and patient services for persons with neurological conditions and their caregivers since 1988. As the only nonprofit organization in the Rocky Mountain Region of its kind, CNI offers patients easy access to comprehensive, state-of-the-art care, support services, clinical trials, outpatient neuro rehab, classes, physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, clinical trials, counseling and more.

CNI is especially helpful to those suffering from the neurological disease of Parkinson’s. PD is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system mainly affecting the motor system. Tom Draayer and Betsy Mathies who suffer with PD, were sincerely grateful to CNI’s research that help them with their everyday life. Draayer demonstrated a small device that, when activated by his motions, allows him added flexibility, like on the golf course. He showed the audience the limitation of his hand without the electronic device. Then proudly showed how he was able to play a great game of golf this day with a solid, yet flexible grip. All due to the small box that stimulates his nervous system where needed. It was remarkable to see.

When you are diagnosed with a neurological condition it takes more than just a doctor to help you live the best life possible. Tami Lack, executive director, added an addendum to Betsy and Tom’s presentation. She reminded everyone chowing down on the burgers and brats that Tom’s success was from the fundraisers and donations that went to research. She was not afraid to ask for a donation and encouraged each golfer to fill out a donation form at their seat.

Bear Dance Golf Club extolled the effects of Colorado’s endless weeks of rain. The bright neon fairways and manicured greens glowed magnificently with picturesque foothills and snow capped Rocky Mountains as the backdrop. The beauty of it all made everyone play a little better, I’m sure.

The Mission of Colorado Neurological Institute is to enhance the delivery of personalized, comprehensive and state-of-the-art care to patients with neurological conditions through coordinated research, patient services and education. If you’re experiencing a neurological condition, please call 303-788-4010. You will be referred to an associate or one of their numerous programs.

Proceeds from the Classic allow CNI to provide research, patient services and education programs to patients, caregivers, and physicians facing neurological conditions.



CNI: Says Live Well, Be Happy


Happiness is a positive idea. A philosophy that says it’s possible to create a productive and happy life, especially for Coloradans with neurological disorders.  With the support and commitment of the Colorado Neurological Institute many, indeed, live well and enjoy happy lives.

For 26 years, CNI has been committed to making sure that all patients, regardless of their ability to pay, have access to state-of-the-art medical care, support services, education, ongoing rehabilitation and research opportunities. Saturday, September 13, at the Grand Hyatt, hundreds celebrated CNI’s patients, caregivers and the state of being happy. Even while facing difficult neurological conditions, many of CNI’s patients have re-discovered happiness and continued their commitment to doing everything in their power to “live well”. This event supports CNI’s efforts to help individuals with neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, hearing disorders, brain tumors and Huntington’s, to live the best life possible through clinical research, patient services and education.

The event was an unparalleled, colorful Fall evening, designed to celebrate friends, family, doctors, patients and volunteers. Patients such as Nancy Ivankoe and Paul Cunningham were there to share their renewed health and show support for CNI which has made a significant difference in their lives.

Mr. Eddie Robinson, the man known for milk, was given the 2014 Community Champion Award for his tireless work with the organization. Family and friends gathered Saturday night to honor and congratulate the man who continues to give generously of his time and philanthropy to the Denver community.

The evening’s finale began with auctioneer, Gary Corbett. He moved items with rapid fire, such as a balloon ride, a hike up a 14er with Chris Tomer and Dr. Rajeev Kumar; tickets to the Great American Beer Festival from Tommyknocker Brewery, tennis lessons, a signed Elway jersey, California wine country tour and tasting, a luxury vacation in Fiji, fine art by Paul Cunningham, a Mexican vacation, a Canadian tour and, tickets to the 2015 People’s Choice Awards in Los Angeles.  Corbett kept the bids and money moving fast and furious for the organization.

Breathless and spent, the guests relaxed to the rocking sounds of The Outliers, one of Denver’s great get-up-and-dance bands.

For more information on the Colorado Neurological Institute: email 303-788-4010.




Colorado Neurological Institute Hope Awards


Sitting on top of the world in Denver.

High above the city, on the 38th floor Pinnacle Club, the Colorado Neurological Institute gathered to honor five unforgettable individuals. Each had suffered life changing disabilities yet with strength and their insurmountable resilience each arrived that night with dignity to receive a Hope Award.

The annual Cindy Acree Hope Awards celebrates CNI patients who have shown great courage in the face of a neurological condition. Established in 1999, the event is named in honor of Ms. Acree, who underwent brain surgery for epilepsy, suffered a stroke and then exhibited tenacity and courage throughout her recovery.  Ms. Acree is a former Colorado state representative, past chairman of the CNI Board of Directors and a major contributor to CNI’s volunteer successes.

The five stars of the evening were Kimberlee Nanda, Michael Williams, Mary Dobson, Ernie Hempel and Claire Torres. Inhaling the beautiful view the stars felt as if they were sitting on a mountain because each had climbed a mountain and made it to the top. From brain cancer to a stroke, multiple sclerosis and, a cochlear implant each award was a celebration for overcoming life threatening and life changing obstacles.

The evening was a true celebration for individuals and care givers to shine. It takes a village to see many through rough times. That’s why the Colorado Neurological Institute is alive and well.

The organization has one word to define them.

hope (hop) n. The emotional state which promotes the belief in a positive outcome related to events and circumstances in one’s life.

CNI is a non-profit neuroscience organization providing research, patient services and education for persons with neurological conditions and their caregivers since 1988. For more information go to their website:


Colorado Neurological Institute 25th Anniversary Gala


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.

For more information, please visit