BY MARY BOLSTER
In our June/July 2017 issue of Neurology Now, we feature the winners of the American Academy of Neurology's 2017 Neuro Film Festival, who each won $1,000. Bill Doorley won in the Why I Think Neuroscience Is… TM Essential category for his portrait of Dr. Deborah Warden and her life with primary lateral sclerosis (bit.ly/NFF-Essential). In this online exclusive, we share more information about the other winners.
Why I Think Neuroscience Is…TM Critical
Imagine running seven marathons in seven days on seven continents—with brain cancer. That seemingly impossible feat was accomplished by BethAnn Telford, 47, from January 23 through January 29, 2017. Following her every step of the way while lugging camera equipment was Meghan Tucker, whose 7-year-old niece, Gracie, was one of the 10 children with brain cancer to whom Telford dedicated her races in the World Marathon Challenge. Tucker's short video comprising highlights from Telford's seven races won the $1,000 Grand Prize in the Why I Think Neuroscience Is…TM Critical category.
Since her own diagnosis of brain cancer in 2005, Telford has been running for her life—literally. Every race she enters, she raises money for Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure (ABC2), a nonprofit organization for which she's an ambassador. The goal for 2017 is $1 million. The tally so far? $909,688. Make that $910,688: Tucker plans to donate her prize money from the Neuro Film Festival to the charity.
Tucker first met Telford in 2012 when she attended a Race for Hope 5K fundraiser for the brain cancer community in Washington, DC. "I was unprepared for the instant love and support my family received at the event," Tucker recalls. She has remained an integral part of Team BT, the group of friends, families, and other folks engaged in battling brain cancer that Telford formed to help in her fundraising efforts.
Days before Telford left for the World Marathon Challenge, she heard about the Neuro Film Festival and encouraged Tucker and two people from ABC2 to submit a short video (less than 5 minutes) from her weeklong adventure. "We agreed immediately that the film festival was perfect for getting the message out about advocacy and awareness of brain cancer research," says Tucker.
The video chronicles Telford's grueling itinerary: From the snowy plains of Union Glacier, Antarctica, on Day 1 to the rainy metropolis of Punta Arenas, Chile, on Day 2. On Day 3, Telford ran her third marathon in tropical Miami. After a transatlantic flight to Madrid, Spain, she finished her fourth marathon followed by a fifth in Marrakesh, Morocco, on Day 5. After a 10-hour flight from Marrakesh, Telford touched down in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where she endured sweltering temperatures to complete her sixth marathon. Hours later, Telford hopped on a 15-hour flight to Sydney, Australia, where she started her last marathon well before dawn. Her times ranged from six hours and 11 minutes in Antarctica to four hours and 16 minutes in Spain.
Since completing the World Marathon Challenge, Telford has run the Boston Marathon in April and the 5K Race for Hope in May. She continues to meet with her doctors weekly and is preparing for bladder surgery in June due to a complication from her brain cancer, says Tucker. More running is definitely in Telford's future. "I can tell you she will never stop advocating on behalf of the kids who fight this disease," says Tucker. To get involved or donate, visit abc2.org or btwmc.org. To view the video, go to bit.ly/NFF-Critical.
Why I Think Neuroscience Is…TM Rewarding
Neurology resident Gianluca di Maria has always been fascinated by the intersection between the neuroscientist in the lab and the neurologist in the office. "Investing in neuroscience has a direct effect on the patient," he says. To illustrate that, he and his friends shot a video showing the connections and interactions between the scientist's work and the neurologist's engagement with the patient. "I've always enjoyed making movies," says Di Maria, who wrote the script, directed the video, and played the neuroscientist. He plans to use the prize money to buy a new camera. In the meantime, he will continue to work in a neuroscience lab, experimenting and looking for evidence-based results that will benefit patients. To watch the video, go to bit.ly/NFF-Rewarding.
Why I Think Neuroscience Is…TM Cool
Nancy Khuc's grandfather, a former teacher in Vietnam, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2013 at age 86. Over time, he has forgotten the names and faces of his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. In her loving homage to him, Nancy, 16, reveals what he can still remember: Vietnamese poetry and proverbs. "My grandpa would typically recite the same two to three proverbs, but during the filming of the video, I learned that he knew at least 12," says Nancy. Intrigued by his selective memory, Nancy did some research on how Alzheimer's disease affects memory. "I learned that anything that contains some sort of rhythm or has been rehearsed many times does not require a lot of mental processing. This makes sense as my grandfather taught these proverbs to his students for 40 years."
Nancy has always been interested in film. In searching for opportunities for high school students, she discovered the Neuro Film Festival. "I instantly knew it would be a great platform to share my experiences of living with my grandfather," she says. The sophomore at Mount Ranier High School in Seattle hopes to make a documentary about her grandfather's experience, after she's studied more about Alzheimer's disease. "Filming my grandfather has made me far more interested in Alzheimer's and the brain than I thought I'd ever be." As for her prize money? She plans to give it to her parents for safekeeping until she decides how to use it. To view the video, go to bit.ly/NFF-Cool.