Kodiak Award Winner 2004 - 2005


Ben’s spirit is with us tonight.

The Kodiak Award originated on the first anniversary of Ben’s death and is presented to the one volunteer, who in the opinion of the partners has given outstanding support to those people seeking it at Bipolar World.

In past years it was awarded to Twopoles, Ez, and Debi.

It is never easy to choose one person for this award when all are donating their time and expertise for the common goal of education and support of bipolar disorder to all who come to us requesting it. Every volunteer here deserves to be applauded and awarded, but the secret that all of us are well aware of, is that giving brings its own reward. In that we are all rich.

So we look to the one whose star has shone just a little brighter this past year – the one who has invariably been around with words of support and care – the one who even through their own times of suffering has been able to still be there for others –

And just before I name the winner I am going to ask you to hold your congratulations until the presentation is completely finished. The winner this year will receive a copy of Dr Phelp’s brand new book (as soon as it has been released J)

I am pleased to announce that the winner of this years Kodiak Award is Judith Ann (Duff) – Congratulations Duff

Duff accepted the award with a lovely acceptance speech

I truly appreciate this award, and I hope my words do honor to you all tonight.

Collie wrote an email announcing this gathering. In her email she referred to the recipient of this award as the star amongst all of us that shone just a little bit brighter this year

Now most of you who know me, realize that this is a difficult thing for me to see in myself. As BP folks you will understand that we often see all the tarnish that is us all too often.

At the young age of 48 years, I have only just started to accept that this tarnish, these shadows, these lines, these gray hairs, and the body parts that just didn’t stay put all complete a pretty ok picture.

However, the imagery of stars is a strong one for me. I am going to tell a story of a moment in my life, please be patient with me, hope it isn’t too long

Possibly the worse night, when I faced and made the hardest decision ever, after the worse moment had blessedly finally passed, I turned from a stark, sanitized, emotion filled reality and looked out the nearest window.

No moon that night, and clear no clouds. There was a blue black dome above me, filled with hundreds and thousands of stars dipping down to the Hudson river and the mountains. Not one star stood out, just a full sense of calm and peace, a spirituality of place and the certainty of my belongingness in it. And that became a better reality.

And that was just what I needed when I needed it. This place, BPW has given me a similar sense.

To Collie, your quiet resolution and determination, your absolute ability to treat everyone with dignity, your vision and guidance, a wicked wit, and a creative soul are qualities I so admire.

Add the courage to walk new paths and make some hard decisions with a focused trust and faith in the outcomes, and a true role model is borne.

To Allie, truly I believe when God said grace, he must have been kissing you. You have such a grace and integrity and presence of person that have been in awe of since I first met you.

You too have so much faith in people and their abilities, and an uncommon quality to seeing all sides of a situation. You know how to listen, not only hear, that is an art and it is the cornerstone of your strength. You have demonstrated over and over, unconditional trust and love for everyone here.

I know also some of the hard decisions you have had to reach, but you do it with kindness and fairness. And that is reflected in all parts of this community and I am grateful to you.

Ez man, cant get away from this….sometimes God gives us gifts, happens when two people with some commonalities and shared passions meet, and they check each other out for awhile, and one fine day a fissure occurs and walla, a friendship is sealed that is real and honest and no beginning no end, Just is…and will always be.

Your courage, compassion, creativity and sensitivity astonish and inspire me daily. Ez would be mortified for me to go on and on and I can, suffice to say I am and will always be grateful for the gift of you in my life.

To Kodiaks family, some time ago I literally fell into this site. I tried on numerous occasions to log into chat and yep, suppose I qualify as a lurker, I couldn’t figure out how to sign in for beans.

lol been kicked ouch

But I did spend a lot of time going through pages on the main site. Of course I stumbled across Kodiaks name and thought wow, what better life is it that tributes such as these are written and the memories linger so sweetly and gently. Collie wrote a poem that still strikes me, about measuring your life as the dash between birth date and death date which stays with me today. His ‘dash’ surely was

a well lived honest life, with a truly considerate and generous spirit.

Perhaps he is now grinning down on us as I see in all those pictures

Think of it, I read that when Collie first thought of the idea for a forum, perhaps a monitor was not needed.

Her friend Kodiak came through… “say what? Ya’ kidding!”…or words maybe to that effect. What we do know for sure, another volunteer came to BPW.

Collie’s vision of a forum, and her first volunteer moderator of that forum, Kodiak, laid a strong foundation together and it started only 8 years ago or so.

This strength and resilience is obvious when you consider, today our new forum, started I believe, in November of 2003 has had a total of nearly 53,000 posts!

That is amazing when you put thought to it and what a gift he gave. Apparently a small piece of his ‘dash’ but a lasting one. I believe I would have enjoyed him a lot, I am sorry I never met him but his star surely burns brightly today.

There is a saying, when the pupil is willing a teacher appears. Each day has lessons, and I can always learn more, some hard, some dismay me, some I miss completely and pick up later, some clear, some of them delight, some awe me, but all in some measure inspire me.

Since I came to BPW their have been so many teachers, so many stars. Hard for me to accept this award without pointing out that each and every person here, each op past and present, each moderator past and present, each columnist, each contributor, each partner, and every guest I have met I can visualize as stars in the sky  dome I described earlier.

In sharing your truths and allowing me to share mine, I have come to a place of belongingness. And I pray I can continue shine along with you so that others can feel that too.

In honor of Kodiak and each of you I accept this, I treasure it, I am grateful and I thank you.