After receiving repeated (good) questions about similar medical disorders, Dr. Ravish Patwardhan realized there was a need for people in the community to acquire accurate information. The key was to ensure that the information was not only accurate, but easy to understand. While the knee-jerk response now may be to “just go to the Internet,” this reality becomes overwhelming typing in “Alzheimer’s disease” yields over 23 million results. Where does one start?
With careful analysis and consultation with some colleagues, Dr. Ravish Patwardhan developed
a foundation called “Re-Vitalize” which determined certain websites which were suitable for facilitating public knowledge. Although not confirming accuracy of every fact, the fact that these sites were from national organizations such as "nih.gov” (i.e. National Institutes of Health). People who wanted to know were able to learn more from these sites. LSUS, a local university, eagerly helped set up the foundation, with its AED chapter of undergraduate pre-med students.
Eventually, as the need to spread information grew, speakers were invited who could each be
summarized in one word: inspirational. Dr. Ben Carson, Dr. Kellie Lim, and Mr. Erik Weihenmeyer were three examples. Each spoke from a vantage point of overcoming social disadvantage, loss of limbs, and blindness – each had achieved remarkable goals: becoming a world-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon, becoming a pediatrician, and becoming the first (and only) blind person to climb Mt. Everest, respectively. Dr. Ravish Patwardhan and Pastor Rod Masteller introduced the first two speakers at Summer Grove Baptist Church, where the
initial event was held. Mr. Roy Griggs, a member of the Board, added valuable support.
As the word spread, another prominent community giver joined the team to host Erik
Weihenmeyer. Reverend Mack McCarter joined Dr. Ravish Patwardhan; in addition, School Superintendents Gerald Dawkins and Ken Kruithoff from Shreveport and Bossier City, respectively, send 2,300 ninth graders. Each student had read Erik’s inspirational book on climbing Mt. Everest blind, and got to see him and be inspired in person. Encana, a local oil and gas company, sponsored this, thanks to Mr. Ron Stark and Ms. Mary Anthony. The event was carried on local media, and many came to The Strand Theatre to watch Erik and his guide speak (notable Pastors including Dr. Rod Masteller, Dr. Fred Lowery, and Dr. Wayne Dubose).
Jennifer Carsillo-Butterman played the national anthem on the violin, to begin the presentation.
A particularly moving seen, seen at The Strand Theatre in Shreveport, was when students who
were blind met Erik Weihenmeyer. Though each could not see, they reached out and shook hands, based upon voice recognition. It was enough to bring tears to the eyes of those of us who could witness this. Additionally, children from the school for the deaf attended. Erik’s book, “The Adversity Advantage,” probably best describes his philosophy.
Re-Vitalize has since, along with Community Renewal, been a member at the Clinton Global
Initiative. Both Dr. Ravish Patwardhan and Rev. Mack McCarter attended the meeting in 2009, joining attendees such as the Queen of Jordan, Carlos Slim, and heads of states such as Mexico, Australia, the United States (with a speech by President Barack Obama), and others.
Rev. Mack McCarter and Dr. Ravish Patwardhan are recently embarking on a Community Renewal project to help underprivileged areas in Washington, D.C.
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