|Ben’s spirit is
with us tonight.
Award originated on the first anniversary of Ben’s death
and is presented to the one volunteer, who in the
opinion of the partners has given outstanding support to
those people seeking it at Bipolar World.
In past years it was awarded to
Twopoles, Ez, and Debi.
It is never easy to choose one
person for this award when all are donating their time
and expertise for the common goal of education and
support of bipolar disorder to all who come to us
requesting it. Every volunteer here deserves to be
applauded and awarded, but the secret that all of us are
well aware of, is that giving brings its own reward. In
that we are all rich.
So we look to the one whose star
has shone just a little brighter this past year – the
one who has invariably been around with words of support
and care – the one who even through their own times of
suffering has been able to still be there for others –
And just before I name the winner
I am going to ask you to hold your congratulations until
the presentation is completely finished. The winner this
year will receive a copy of Dr Phelp’s brand new book
(as soon as it has been released J)
I am pleased to announce that the
winner of this years Kodiak Award is Judith Ann (Duff) –
Duff accepted the award with a
lovely acceptance speech
I truly appreciate this award,
and I hope my words do honor to you all tonight.
Collie wrote an email
announcing this gathering. In her email she referred to
the recipient of this award as the star amongst all of
us that shone just a little bit brighter this year
Now most of you who know me,
realize that this is a difficult thing for me to see in
myself. As BP folks you will understand that we often
see all the tarnish that is us all too often.
At the young age of 48 years,
I have only just started to accept that this tarnish,
these shadows, these lines, these gray hairs, and the
body parts that just didn’t stay put all complete a
pretty ok picture.
However, the imagery of stars
is a strong one for me. I am going to tell a story of a
moment in my life, please be patient with me, hope it
isn’t too long
Possibly the worse night, when
I faced and made the hardest decision ever, after the
worse moment had blessedly finally passed, I turned from
a stark, sanitized, emotion filled reality and looked
out the nearest window.
No moon that night, and clear
no clouds. There was a blue black dome above me, filled
with hundreds and thousands of stars dipping down to the
Hudson river and the mountains. Not one star stood out,
just a full sense of calm and peace, a spirituality of
place and the certainty of my belongingness in it. And
that became a better reality.
And that was just what I
needed when I needed it. This place, BPW has given me a
To Collie, your quiet
resolution and determination, your absolute ability to
treat everyone with dignity, your vision and guidance, a
wicked wit, and a creative soul are qualities I so
Add the courage to walk new
paths and make some hard decisions with a focused trust
and faith in the outcomes, and a true role model is
To Allie, truly I believe when
God said grace, he must have been kissing you. You have
such a grace and integrity and presence of person that
have been in awe of since I first met you.
You too have so much faith in
people and their abilities, and an uncommon quality to
seeing all sides of a situation. You know how to listen,
not only hear, that is an art and it is the cornerstone
of your strength. You have demonstrated over and over,
unconditional trust and love for everyone here.
I know also some of the hard
decisions you have had to reach, but you do it with
kindness and fairness. And that is reflected in all
parts of this community and I am grateful to you.
Ez man, cant get away from
this….sometimes God gives us gifts, happens when two
people with some commonalities and shared passions meet,
and they check each other out for awhile, and one fine
day a fissure occurs and walla, a friendship is sealed
that is real and honest and no beginning no end, Just
is…and will always be.
Your courage, compassion,
creativity and sensitivity astonish and inspire me
daily. Ez would be mortified for me to go on and on and
I can, suffice to say I am and will always be grateful
for the gift of you in my life.
To Kodiaks family, some time
ago I literally fell into this site. I tried on numerous
occasions to log into chat and yep, suppose I qualify as
a lurker, I couldn’t figure out how to sign in for
lol been kicked ouch
But I did spend a lot of time
going through pages on the main site. Of course I
stumbled across Kodiaks name and thought wow, what
better life is it that tributes such as these are
written and the memories linger so sweetly and gently.
Collie wrote a poem that still strikes me, about
measuring your life as the dash between birth date and
death date which stays with me today. His ‘dash’ surely
a well lived honest life, with
a truly considerate and generous spirit.
Perhaps he is now
grinning down on us as I see in all those pictures
Think of it, I read that when
Collie first thought of the idea for a forum, perhaps a
monitor was not needed.
Her friend Kodiak came
through… “say what? Ya’ kidding!”…or words maybe to that
effect. What we do know for sure, another volunteer came
Collie’s vision of a forum,
and her first volunteer moderator of that forum, Kodiak,
laid a strong foundation together and it started only 8
years ago or so.
This strength and resilience
is obvious when you consider, today our new forum,
started I believe, in November of 2003 has had a total
of nearly 53,000 posts!
That is amazing when you put
thought to it and what a gift he gave. Apparently a
small piece of his ‘dash’ but a lasting one. I believe I
would have enjoyed him a lot, I am sorry I never met him
but his star surely burns brightly today.
There is a saying, when the
pupil is willing a teacher appears. Each day has
lessons, and I can always learn more, some hard, some
dismay me, some I miss completely and pick up later,
some clear, some of them delight, some awe me, but all
in some measure inspire me.
Since I came to BPW their have
been so many teachers, so many stars. Hard for me to
accept this award without pointing out that each and
every person here, each op past and present, each
moderator past and present, each columnist, each
contributor, each partner, and every guest I have met I
can visualize as stars in the sky dome I described
In sharing your truths and
allowing me to share mine, I have come to a place of
belongingness. And I pray I can continue shine along
with you so that others can feel that too.
In honor of Kodiak and each of
you I accept this, I treasure it, I am grateful and I