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Minneapolis Meetup

As the "instigator" who 11 years ago blissfully started getting mothers of active-duty Marines and eventually Marine vets to meet together to share experiences, information, and to just be with others "who get it", I'm doing it again thanks to CCF.   At the last annual conference, I met Caitlin Fortuna and her youngest daughter. Caitlin's mom had died in August 2018 after an 8 1/2 month battle. She's now 27 and her siblings are 25 and 23. They reminded me of my four kids who lost their dad at about the same age.

Caitlin and I struck up a friendship and a couple of months ago she mentioned to me, and a few other friends, that her family was coming to Minneapolis while her husband attended a convention for architects.  We decided to meet up, and I put out the basic info out on some FB groups to anyone who was a caregiver or patient here in the Upper Midwest. We'd hoped that sometime we could join with our Wisconsin and Toronto friends that we'd also met at the conference.   

Finally last night, Caitlin and I met with three other Twin Citians for the first monthly meetup.  Bernice and Darrell Baltzer, as well as Elaine Samolytz rounded out the party and became our newest friends.   Everyone agreed that there was something special and important to having face-to-face gatherings that don't quite happen to such a degree with only electronic relationships.   

I arbitrarily decided that we'll meet again on September 28th at 11:30 am.  This later time might be advantageous for those that have to travel far to get here.  It was important to me to set the meeting out far enough that it might better fit other people's schedules.  Since this gathering was so uplifting, I've also decided we'll try to go for monthly meetings on the fourth Saturday of the month.  We can fine-tune things as we go along. Thank you so much for giving me a scholarship to attend the annual conference. It made me realize how important and wonderful it is to connect with other patients and caregivers who are facing the same adversity.  There truly is special strength gained by these meetings as I've found with over 500 Marine Mom members and that I can now apply to those affected by CC. I've learned over time how important a hug, a word of encouragement, and just sitting with someone who can truly stand in your shoes, can be to someone facing enormously difficult situations.  

Please contact mvangorden@hotmail.com for more information.

From left to right, Elaine Samaolytz, Darrel & Bernice Baltzer, Marcia Van Gorden and Caitlin Fortuna (smiling for a selfie) at dinner.
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