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Lunch With The First Lady of Panama, to Benefit Project C.U.R.E.

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I often say blogging brings me interesting experiences. In truth, those experiences are also often uplifting and emotional too. That can be said for the luncheon I attended in Denver last week, where our Colorado First Lady Jeannie Ritter welcomed Marta Martinelli, the First Lady of Panama, to discuss disparities in healthcare around the world.

The pair were brought together for a cause they both believe in Project C.U.R.E. (Commission on Urgent Relief & Equipment) – which was founded right here in Colorado in 1987 to help meet the need for medical supplies, equipment and services around the world. I was amazed to learn that Project C.U.R.E. only has a 2% overhead rate. TWO PERCENT. Having worked in the non-profit world for 12 years, I can tell you that is AMAZING, friends. And they take the 98¢ left from every dollar they receive and turn it into $20 worth of medical supplies that are sent to developing countries in need. TWENTY!

Project C.U.R.E. started out delivering supplies to Brazil, and have branched out all over the world since then. The focus of the luncheon was, understandably, Panama. Ms. Martinelli spoke about the history of Panamanian public health, which I was surprised to learn, is tightly intertwined with the building of the Panama Canal. You see, before they built, they cleared disease. And then Panama used many of the principals learned to build their health system at the time.

Parts of the presentation were heart-wrenching, as they showed the conditions many hospitals are working with right now. And while I know we have many problems here, at home, in our country – I was reminded yet again how lucky we are.

When Declan was in the NICU – his NICU was not an open air room with a metal bedframe covered in a thatch mattress for him to lay in. His access to care was vastly different.

And as I listened to Mrs. Martinelli speak, to thank the organizers for selecting Panana as a recipient nation – I was thrilled that our little slice of the Americas was helping other little slices of the Americas. Mrs. Ritter talked about hearing a World Cup soccer announcer joke about a “home continent advantage” and she felt that Colorado was helping do that for all of North America through Project C.U.R.E.

Uplifting indeed.

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