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Our recent event featuring the award-winning documentary film about Lyme disease, Under Our Skin, was indeed a large success with nearly 300 people in attendance at Lawrence Academy’s Richardson-Mees Performing Arts Center in Groton on Saturday, May 30. Attendees also visited with vendors providing a range of products and services available for prevention of Lyme or in support of patients suffering from this devastating disease.

An event of this magnitude wouldn’t have been possible without the contributions of many people. I am so thankful to Lawrence Academy, and Scott Stathis and Keith Dawson of the Groton Film Society for their invaluable assistance in hosting this event.

My heartfelt thanks are also extended to members of the medical panel who devoted time from their demanding schedules to answer important questions regarding Lyme: neurologist Luz Jacqueline Ruiz, M.D., family medicine physician Peter Johns, M.D., and clinical psychologists Sheila Statlender, Ph.D. and Leo Shea, Ph.D., whose contributions made for an informative discussion.

I would also like to offer our gratitude to state Rep. Robert Hargraves, R-Groton, and state Rep. James Arciero, D-Westford, for attending the event, offering their support and addressing the audience regarding legislation that has been introduced by Rep. Hargraves for the protection of physicians who treat Lyme disease. Your interest and dedication to this cause is genuinely appreciated by all who have been affected by this hidden epidemic.

A huge “thank you” is also extended to Kurt Hayes, who provided information regarding grass-roots involvement and lobbying for legislation to protect physicians and patients. Thanks so much to the Groton Herald, the Groton Landmark and The Sun of Lowell for publicizing the event through their publication of photos, articles and calendar of events. Many thanks to Jane Bouvier and the crew of “Around Town” for encouraging us tell our “Lyme” stories.

Donelan’s of Littleton and Groton again stepped forward in support of community events and provided refreshments. Finally, I would also like to thank the members of our local Lyme disease support group, “Ticked Off,” for all of their contributions to this successful event. Many hours went into planning, making ribbons, baking, spending time at our schools distributing literature and bracelets and meeting with our state representatives. Thank you to Cheryl and Steve Smith; Julie DeLuca; Jayme, Bart and Kelly Kulesz; Amanda Cogan; Alyssa Transue; Pete Martin; Chris Tucker; Caroline Sharpe; Sue Cooper; Denise Gallant; Robin and Jenna Lemieux; Susan and Al Pitzerand; and Nancy Pierce. Your dedication is so awesome as we stand together to fight for the rights of Lyme patients and their physicians and bring the awareness and prevention message to residents of the Nashoba Valley.

I began advocating for victims of Lyme disease when my loved one was misdiagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) in the summer of 2005, then rediagnosed with Lyme disease. I am now rejoicing in my loved one’s continually improving condition. In the past four years I have met so many others suffering with Lyme and have joined with them in campaigns for prevention and awareness in many communities across the commonwealth.

Be careful out there, and remember to check for ticks each time you or family members, including your pets, spend time outdoors.

DONNA CASTLE

Groton

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