Monday, December 11, 2017

The Art of Medicine Gala at the Orlando Museum of Art.

First Green Bank and The Art of Medicine Foundation invited health care professionals and brain injury survivors to submit artwork to be auctioned for charity. This event is educates and inspires awareness about the impact that brain injuries and other neurological disorders can have on those affected. Proceeds from the event benefited the University of Florida Trauma, Concussion, and Sports Neuromedicine Program.

The gala is in honor of Dr. Cindy LaRoe, who sustained a traumatic brain injury during a competitive biking accident. The injury paused LaRoe’s career in medicine, but also led her down a path of discovering her artistic talents. During her recovery, LaRoe found painting therapeutic, and now, six years after her injury, she continues to paint. She paints in vibrant bold colors. Cindy is standing in front of her painting of clown fish in my sketch. 

In a video presentation Cindy remembered the day of her accident at a bike race.  There were incentives with each lap which incited racers to sprint. She was in a group of racers heading up a hill.  Some of the girls started to sprint to pass and Cindy let them. They crossed the lines which is against the rules.  There was a big crash in front of Cindy.  She recalled a flash of bodies going down in front of her.  After the accident, she couldn't see for a while, there was twitching in her right eye and blurred vision.   She couldn't handle the over-stimulation of live music and crowds.  She always felt she was seeing movement to her right side.  Memories were gone.  She woke up and was a different person.  She doesn't want anyone to ever have to experience that.  She likes to think that things happen for a reason.  Color was more intense and vibrant. Creating art gave her life a new meaning.  In some ways she feels she might be a better person that she was.   It doesn't all suck.

Her recovery and her talent were the inspiration for she and her husband, Ken LaRoe, the founder of First Green Bank, to create the Art of Medicine Foundation. Ken took to the microphone.   He explained that after the accident, his wife developed a seizure disorder.  There were days where she had over 100 seizures.  She was put on a cocktail of pharmaceuticals but they had no effect.  One day one of Ken's biggest clients said randomly that he smokes dope.  He smokes so that he can get to sleep at night and has done so since he was 15 years old.  He has a net worth of over 60 million, so clearly he isn't just a stoner.  He invited Ken over to his Isleworth mansion to pick up a joint.   Ken reluctantly agreed and hid the joint in a baggie under his car seat.  A week later he told Cindy that she needed to try it.  She said, "No."   He said, "Look, you are a doctor, this is a medical experiment." He took a couple of tokes to cut the ice.  After she took her 4th toke off the joint, her seizures stopped.  They stopped all night and into the next day.  It worked day after day.  Her neurologist couldn't explain it.  Over 6 months she got off the pharmaceuticals. In the interim, medical marijuana became legal.  Cindy finds a silver lining in every situation.  The gala is an example of that.  

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

No comments: