By Dr. Deborah Peel, MD
The "If I Could" screening turned out really, really
well. Frankly, it was one of the most special evenings of my life.
The night started with Baby Jane Dexter, the recording artist/club
and cabaret singer, who opened with a powerful song (she is the
one who sang at the end of the film).
Deborah Peel is
a longtime mental health advocate,
past-President of the Texas Society
of Psychiatric Physicians and
president of the Mental HealthCARE
Next came Virginia Williams, the mother of the mayor of DC, who
spoke about adopting the mayor as a small baby and two other abused
Virginia was great! She spoke about her son's club foot, his cleft
palate, his ears. She and her husband were told he was retarded.
She obviously cared deeply about the issue of abused children and
showed her own great heart by adopting them! Her talk was very moving.
There a fabulous very brief video introduction to the film by
Fred Goodwin MD (he does NPR's "Infinite Mind" and is
the former head of the National Institutes of Mental Health(NIMH).
He taped his introduction from his study a day before the screening,
because he thought the film was so important and amazing. His comments
were just the best you could imagine.
After that, we all saw the film and heard the panel. The panel
after the showing of the film included Tim Roche from Time magazine,
Dr. Ivan Walks MD, the former DC Health Commissioner by two days,
Dr. Harold Eist was his usual entertaining and rabble-rousing self.
The rest of the panel were also very good; Andi Karfgin PhD who
was the mental health advisor to the filmmakers, and Emily Brown,
LCSW, of Washington DC spoke about family issues.
Bob Burton of VisionQuest and Tracy Marasco, the main charcater
in the film, were the last two to speak. The two of them are very,
very special people. It was an honor to get to meet them and have
time with them. Tracy has been a very effective advocate for mental
health programs in Colorado, has finished college with a degree
in political science and is a paralegal, hoping to become an attorney.
She's very impressive and well-spoken.
It was truly an amazing and very inspiring evening for all who
attended. We had an audience of about 200 in a beautiful setting,
at a well-known Washington, D.C. think tank. The program was underwritten
The audience was really energized, respectful, and stayed very
late, some to 11 or 11:30. Many in the audience stayed not to ask
questions, but just sat raptly listening to the discussion and simply
wanted to be part of the experience. It was a moving experience.
The atmosphere was exciting and the film was profound. It was a
really special evening.