NMO Program Update

NMO Program Update

“It is wonderful to watch the progress of a project, which the Diamond family and their Foundations have supported for many years.

Since 2008, research into Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO)  has been conducted, with our support, by the UBC/VGH Hospital Foundation through the work of Dr. A Traboulsee and his team.

Recently the NMO Clinic has played an important role as a participant site in the clinical trial of a new and promising treatment, with a large pharmaceutical company. With national and international colleagues, they are making strides in MRI imaging for Multiple Sclerosis, are developing a Canada-wide database for NMO and related disorders, and working to speed prompt diagnosis and treatment of the NMDA disorder- perhaps familiar from the book “Brain on Fire”. Through ” Patient Day”, improved patient educational outreach services continue to be offered, too.

It is very gratifying to see the outstanding progress being made in British Columbia in NMO. We are proud to have played a role in making this vision a reality.”

~ Rick’s Heart Foundation

What is NMO?

Neuromyelitis optica (NMO) is a central nervous system disorder that primarily affects the eye nerves (optic neuritis) and the spinal cord (myelitis). NMO is also known as neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder or Devic’s disease. It occurs when your body’s immune system reacts against its own cells in the central nervous system, mainly in the optic nerves and spinal cord, but sometimes in the brain.

The cause of neuromyelitis optica is usually unknown, although it may sometimes appear after an infection, or it may be associated with another autoimmune condition. Neuromyelitis optica is often misdiagnosed as multiple sclerosis (MS) or perceived as a type of MS, but NMO is a distinct condition.

Neuromyelitis optica may cause blindness in one or both eyes, weakness or paralysis in the legs or arms, painful spasms, loss of sensation, uncontrollable vomiting and hiccups, and bladder or bowel dysfunction from spinal cord damage. Children may experience confusion, seizures or coma with NMO. Neuromyelitis optica flare-ups may be reversible, but can be severe enough to cause permanent visual loss and problems with walking.

Mayo Clinic Staff (2017, Dec 15). Overview [Web log post]. Retrieved Nov 4, 2019, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/neuromyelitis-optica/symptoms-causes/syc-20375652

For more on this story visit NMO Centre For Brain Health

Hurricane Dorian Relief

Hurricane Dorian Relief

Hurricane Dorian was the most intense tropical cyclone on record to strike the Bahamas and is regarded as the worst natural disaster in the country’s history. Over 60 fatalities. Over 7 Billion in Damage. Winds over 185 MPH. Across the Bahamas, the storm left at least 70,000 people homeless. An estimated 13,000 homes, constituting 45% of the homes on the Abacos and Grand Bahama, suffered severe damage or were completely destroyed.

Abaco, Bahamas post Hurricane Dorian

Here at Rick’s Heart Foundation we strongly believe in working together to strengthen the impact. By supplying shipping in British Columbia to Disaster Aid and Soap For Hope we were able to help those affected by Hurricane Dorian. This relief was made possible as well by UPS, Disaster Aid USA, Disaster Aid UK and Ireland. We are grateful to these organizations for all they do.
This could NEVER have happened without volunteers.  We would like to thank everyone that gave Disaster Aid their at the warehouse in Victoria. Volunteers jumped into gear and packed boxes all day for this urgent shipment. As well all the incredible volunteers on the ground in the Bahamas, even today they are still working hard. 
Disaster Aid Canada has been coordinating with Disaster Aid USA and Disaster Aid UK and Ireland to get the support done right. 
  1. A $100.00 donation delivers a Water Filtration System for a family which will provide 170 gallons of water per day. Clean water saves lives.
  2. For a donation of $500 you can supply a family with a large 3 room tent. 
  3. For $1,000 you can provide a Disaster Relief Kit complete with a large family tent, a cook stove, pots and pans, dishes, eating utensils, water jugs, and tools.
All donations are greatly appreciated. Tax receipts are issued for all donations over $20.00.  


8th Annual Walk For the Bu

8th Annual Walk For the Bu

October 5th, 2019 ‘Walk For the Bu’ was held in Bear Creek Park

The event provides KBNF with the resources they need to continue making medical miracles in West Africa by delivering life-saving medical support.

Korle-Bu Neuroscience Foundation is a charity saving lives by tackling the most complicated medical conditions in West Africa and beyond: brain and spine.

Here’s How…

  • Surgery: Performing neurosurgery for those with no other hope, through medical missions
  • Supplies: Delivering medical equipment to hospitals and health centres on the front lines
  • Support: Equipping local neurosurgeons and health workers through training, education and funding.

– This year, more than 5 million patients will have no access to qualified neurosurgeons – resulting in otherwise avoidable disability and death.

– Africa accounts for 15% of the global neurosurgical disease, but has access to less than 1% of the global neurosurgeon community while the US and Canada have 1 neurosurgeon for every 69,000 people…

– Africa has just one Neurosurgeon for every 2,028,000 people. Liberia has a single neurosurgeon for the entire country of 4.8 million.

KBNF wants to change these facts. 

What KBNF have accomplished so far:

  • Transported 38+ shipping containers of medical equipment overseas, an estimated retail value of $17,100,000
  • Partnered globally to facilitate the construction of a $213 Million USD modern hospital in Ghana
  • Helped more than 600 neuroscience patients, and supported 10,000 others seeking medical care
  • Directly supported 10 neurosurgeons and offered training to 2000+ local nurses and medic

Rick’s Heart Foundation and Diamond Delivery are proud to continue our support for KBNF. 

Karl Gillies (President of Diamond  Delivery) and His Family came out to support Korle-Bu.

 Hello Rick Diamond,

 I wanted to personally reach out and say ‘THANK YOU’ for your support at this weekend’s ‘Walk for the Bu’. Because of   compassionate people like you, we raised precious dollars that will help provide emergency neurosurgery and medical   care to patients in West Africa—patients who would otherwise have no hope.

  Dozens of participants, supported by dozens of donors, showed up today to walk, run, roll or otherwise contribute to   today’s 5km walk-a-thon. It was amazing. I’d like to include a special thank you to Brenda and Charlie’s IGA for the   amazing BBQ, as well as Rick Diamond for providing the truck and matching a significant portion of donations.

  I am so grateful for everyone who was a part of changing lives. If you couldn’t attend or missed out, don’t worry, you   can still be part of the miracle by signing up for a monthly donation today.

  Thank you! You make me smile. This year’s Walk for the Bu was a success only because of you.

 – Marj  Ratel – President and Founder – Korle-Bu Neuroscience Foundation

Cycling For Sobriety

Cycling For Sobriety

UPDATE ~ Mat finished his cross country BMX bike ride on Oct 9th, 2019 in Victoria, BC. On Oct 8th, 2019, the Foundations pink firetruck escorted Mat through the downtown Eastside to inner Vancouver. New photos and articles on the bottom of this page. Congratulations Mat! 

Mat is attempting to set a world record for longest BMX bike ride. If successful, He will be the first person in the world to bike across Canada on a single speed BMX bike.

Mat left Halifax on May 1 and as of Aug 4 he is now in Ignac, Ontario. The finish line will be the Parliament Building in Victoria B.C. He is ‘Cycling For Sobriety” to create awareness for Recovery and Addiction. 

Mat’s Bio
I was born in Duncan on Vancouver Island. As a child I lived my life on bikes. I learned to ride without training wheels at 3 and you couldn’t get me off my bike. My Dad, my superhero, talented at cycling and mechanics, taught me how to fix bikes. My Dad was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when I was 6 years old and from that day forward my life changed.
I moved to Terrace BC, when I was 7. I rode bikes trying to make friends. Some of these kids were older and they sexually abused and tortured me. I tried to hang myself at 8 to end my pain and confusion. Not long after my parents divorced. I blamed myself. My parents were going through a lot and as they tried to find solid ground, my sister and I were sent to live at a teacher’s house from our Christian school. I began to disconnect and people remarked that something was wrong with me.
In my teenage years I became an outcast. My social behaviors were odd. I wanted acceptance so badly that I started partying and hanging around with the wrong crowd. Hard drugs and drinking became my life at age 15. I lost a close friend and unable to process the pain of that loss in a healthy manner I simply did more drugs. I crashed my truck due to mixing drugs and medications. My mental health became negatively affected. I would hear voices and people were not there. I tried to hang myself off the Kelowna Bridge and a random stranger saved me.
My relationship with drugs and alcohol was torture – I was running from the same thing I was chasing. I lost my job, overdosed and ended up in the hospital.
While in the hospital my mom showed me a news clip about the John Volken Academy. All I heard was long term. I was sold because I knew I didn’t know how to live. Once I was through the doors of the John Volken Academy I felt safe. After 3 months I experienced great personal growth. It is not easy living in a Therapeutic Community, but it works. I learned to stay grounded and present within my body and my periods of blackouts lessened. I learned about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and finally at the age of 30 I got answers to why I mentally and emotionally suffered.
At the one-year mark I suffered more flashbacks. Through deeper trauma therapy, the teachings of the program and a lot of personal work I again experienced a surge of personal growth. This was a turning point for me. One day I saw students sitting around laughing and I was happy that they were happy. I began to make friends and learned to connect in a healthy manner.

Riding my BMX across Canada is a dream I’ve had from 7 years old. Now the dream is a reality. I want everyone to know you can change your life – sobriety is possible!