Art Ross Returns to the Kinetic Sculpture Race

Art Ross, FabricationTechnician, contributes this story.

As reported last year, I enjoy volunteering for the American Visionary Art Museum’s Kinetic Sculpture Race.  This was the museum’s 20th such event.  It was my eighth year participating.

Kinetic Sculpture Racing began in Ferndale, California in 1969 when artist Hobart Brown upgraded his son’s tricycle into a 5-wheeled pentacycle and was challenged to a race down Main Street.  (Hobart did not win.)  Over the decades since, the California race evolved into a 3-day all-terrain Kinetic Grand Championship including treacherous sand dunes, water crossings, and elaborate sculptures and costumes.

The museum's entry - Babe the Blue Ox.

Oakland Mills High School's Messie Nessie.

For those who haven’t had the pleasure of catching this Baltimore madness, the “race” consists of a number of “sculptures”, mostly fabricated from bicycle parts and wild imaginations, that parade through downtown Baltimore with obstacles like a sandpit, a mud pit and a dip in the harbor.  Not all the entries rely on the trustworthy construction of a bicycle.  One of this year’s sculptures was made entirely of pool noodles and duct tape.  The pilots trekked the entire 14 miles by foot (and they swam a bit at the water obstacle).

 The Trojan horse of pool noodles.

The Trojan horse of pool noodles.

The theme for this year’s race was Mysteries & Tall Tales.  I chose to enter the mysterious realm of steampunk for my traditional chicken costume.  My group, the flock of chickens, was in charge of engaging the crowd and tallying votes for the crowd favorite sculpture.  My patented method of engaging the crowd is to pass out DumDum suckers destroying the age-old parental proclamation of “Never take candy from a stranger”.  This year I handed out approximately 500 lollipops.

Here Art shows the progression of the fabrication of his costume.  Art is one of our very talented fabrication technicians, each of whom brings skill and imagination to every prosthesis or orthosis worked on.  

To see the sculptures in the race or for more information you can click here!

Sheryl Nathanson Sachs and Miracle 4 Melanie

When it comes to the field of Prosthetics & Orthotics, it seems that many of us have a unique story as to how we came to work in the field.  And I would like to share mine with you:

While I was a junior in college, trying to figure out a career path, I was leaning towards applying to physical therapy school, with the ultimate goal of working with the military.  I was lucky enough to attend school near Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC), and my roommate’s mother, Melanie Strudler, happened to volunteer in the physical therapy gym; at the time, she had been volunteering there for the past two years.  I was able to shadow her at WRAMC for a few days, and it was while I was there that I stumbled upon the world of prosthetics and orthotics.  I was lucky enough to volunteer in the prosthetics lab at Walter Reed, where my passion for the field grew, before ultimately going to prosthetics & orthotics school for my master’s degree.

Throughout our lives and our professions, we come across individuals who we can learn from, as much as they learn from us.  Melanie Strudler was one of those people.  I have her to thank for helping me find a career that I love.  However, Melanie was unable to see me get to where I am today.  Nine months into my residency at Dankmeyer, Melanie passed away from pancreatic cancer. She was a fighter to the end, and despite her treatments and struggles, her priority was still focused on giving back to the service members who had given up and done so much for our country. Melanie’s daughter, and my good friend, Erica, decided that the best way to continue her mother’s legacy was through the foundation of a non-profit in her honor—and thus, Miracle 4 Melanie, Inc. was born.

I have been involved with this non-profit organization since its foundation.  In continuing her legacy, Miracle 4 Melanie, Inc. raises funds to honor and support wounded service members and their families.  Our largest fundraiser is our Golf Outing, held in May; this upcoming May will be our 6th golfing fundraiser.  The main beneficiary of the funds we raise is a program open to service members and their families located just outside of the Atlanta, Georgia area.  While in graduate school at Georgia Tech, I was part of a group volunteering with Camp Twin Lakes, which helped develop the Family Warrior Weekends.  These weekends are free to the service-members and their families, and Miracle 4 Melanie helps sponsor four weekends each year.

I am thankful to be able to give back to such a worthy cause, while honoring an amazing woman to whom I owe helping me find this amazing field.  For more information on Miracle 4 Melanie, Inc., please visit their website by clicking here.  For more information on the Family Warrior Weekends, please visit their website by clicking here.  I wish to thank Matt Ryb Pictures for most of the photos in my story. I took the Camp Twin Lakes one myself! 

- Sheryl Nathanson Sachs, CPO

Mark Treasure Makes Music

Although I grew up working with my father, with clay, with plaster, pouring molds and vacuum forming plastic to make our own molds, my dad was also a musician and song writer.  Like my father, one of my lifelong hobbies is music. In fact, I once thought I was going to be a music teacher, prior to my career in O&P.   My wife, Linda, and I write music together and we share our music at various churches and events.  We also enjoy helping lead worship services.  For a majority of my life, one of my father's favorite questions was "Have you written any new songs lately?"  

Many years ago, after recording in a local studio and sending the demo to my dad, he loved the songs but thought we could do better with our own recording equipment. He made it possible for Linda and I to have our own recording studio with a major mobile component.  This has made it possible to record at various locations. A friend who played bass guitar and helped Linda and I at our larger venues is father to some very talented young men. I recorded them when they were small and a few years ago recorded and produced a CD of them.  They actually did very well with this CD - and by word of mouth, there are some others who wish to do a recording project. 

In addition to writing and sharing those songs on YouTube and at various churches and events, we have also had a few song contracts over the years with small music publishing companies. Although this is exciting, having a song contract with a publisher is only a first step, as the publisher works at connecting the song with an artist and record company.  In addition, there are other steps a song usually goes through before even being released.  

A few years ago there was an opportunity to use my recording skills to produce a very special CD. When a patient receives a prosthesis or orthosis at Dankmeyer there are written care and use instructions for that device. When the patient is blind the usual written instructions are not helpful. Since this person is able to operate a CD player the solution was obvious to me. I recorded the care and use instructions with an announcement of each track and its content. This way they could easily navigate through the instructions.  I knew this was a success when the person came back for the follow-up appointment and told me how helpful the recording was, and began telling me the instructions as they demonstrated donning and doffing the device, including how to clean each part.

Writing and sharing our music has always been a fun way for Linda and I to connect with people in various communities, and recording others is also fun and rewarding.

- Mark Treasure, CP, BOCO

Mary Reedy and Girl Scouts of the USA

Once a Girl Scout, always a Girl Scout.  This is how Mary Reedy, CP sees her role as a volunteer with the Girl Scouts of the Chesapeake Bay.  Growing up, she was active in her local Girl Scout troop.   She participated in fundraising through the famous Girl Scout Cookie Campaign, bake sales at the mall and selling calendars door to door.  The money raised helped her troop fund many great adventures over the years.

“I was blessed to have a very active troop and great female role models as leaders.   I didn’t realize and appreciate how much of an impact my Girl Scout experiences would have on me until later in life.”  Putting on plays such as “A Christmas Carol”, traveling to campsites all over the Tri-State area, organizing and implementing camps for over 300 scouts, which earned her the Silver Leadership Pin.   “I have fond memories and lasting friendships.  I knew I wanted to give back as an adult, especially if I had daughters.”

For the past 10 years, she has been able to complete her goal of volunteering with her daughters’ troops.   Camping on the beach, geocaching, hiking in local state parks,  and traveling to historic Savannah, Georgia (birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts) are just a few of the many adventures.   Click here to read about Low's home.

But those fun filled activities come with a price tag.   “All scouting activities and badges are financed through fundraising.  Our largest financial support is through the Girl Scout Cookie Campaign.”   Cookie sales have been a Girl Scout tradition for over 100 years.  You can read about Girl Scout cookies here.

Mary selling cookies with the troop.

For three months, the girls brave the snow, rain and cold weather selling door to door or standing outside local businesses, selling their famous products.   It is more than selling.  The girls are required to know their products, design table displays, and learn how to understand “supply and demand”, customer service techniques and money management.   There are even “secret shoppers” in the local Girl Scout Council, who check in on each troop during the selling season.  Every weekend you will find this Girl Scout Mom braving the elements to support the troop. 

“There are so many more opportunities for girls today than there were when I was a kid.  The girls just don’t sell cookies and make crafts.”  

Today the Girls Scouts offer a multitude of programs including:  STEM classes, leadership camps and spending a day at the Maryland General Assembly.    “It is about discovering each girl’s strengths and helping her find her place in this world.”  You can read more about Girl Scouts making a difference here.

Becky Snell and Girls on the Run

If we are blessed, a wake-up call comes in time to make a difference in our lives.  My wake-up call came when I turned 49 and I realized that if my health were to follow the health patterns of my father's family, I could be dead in 12 years. Unless I did something to change that path I was looking at potential diabetes and a total lack of heart health.  I took a good look at what I was eating and my activity levels, and decided it was time to make a change.  

I joined a gym.  Yeah, I know.  A lot of people do that and it lasts maybe 3-6 months.  But I was on a mission, and I got a trainer because I had no idea what to do with all the equipment.  I started logging my calories in an app, and parking farther from the entry to the grocery.  I walked and walked, but what I wanted to do was run again.

I had run some during my twenties before running was cool and Nike and Addidas were just starting their marketing efforts.  I wasn't a natural athlete, but I enjoyed it, and I wanted to get back to that.  It took awhile.  After all, a girl who has made her living at a computer keyboard for 25 years has to learn how to exercise unused muscles!  I made a lot of rookie mistakes - the wrong shoes and form and starting out too hard and too fast led to stress fractures.  But once I was past that, and got some help I set my sights on a half marathon.  My husband was very supportive and took up cycling again - at first to accompany me on long training runs.  Eventually my daughter started running as well, and we went on running vacations together for some mother-daughter time.  Since that first half marathon six years ago there a lot a runs and medals under the bridge.  I am not fast, I am slow and steady, but I get it done.

Joe and his dog Yeti sucked me in!

I meet a lot of people running and have joined various groups - often we run races together.  One of these running friends, a retired Navy officer, suggested I might be interested in volunteering for an organization that focused on empowering young women using running and teamwork as a vehicle.  Joe is a coach for the local Girls on the Run chapter and thought I might like to coach as well.  I went to a local 5K (3.1 miles) where over 900 local girls were doing their 5K celebration run - to wrap up their semester of training - and he introduced me to the local director.

Shortly after that I applied to volunteer, possibly coach, for Girls on the Run.  This is a national non-profit organization that has self supported chapters all over the country.  A background check and personal reference were required.  If I couldn't coach, I wanted to volunteer in any other way I could.  Once the local director contacted me, I realized that the coaching commitment was something I couldn't do based on my work schedule. Since I have some social media experience, they thought it would be a great contribution if I could help them with their YouTube efforts.  While I am far from an expert, they had recently lost some marketing volunteers and this is where I could do the most good. I started putting together simple slideshows and videos using material they had stashed away.

I had spent years in Girl Scouts, both as a girl myself, and then with my daughter's troops.  GOTR is in some ways like Girl Scouts in trying to help girls and young women develop self confidence and respect for others.  GOTR members meet after school regularly and their coaches combine running with fun activities and community service projects to teach these skills.  Each semester of participation results in a 5K where the local teams run together and family and friends cheer them on.  

While I am not coaching currently due to work commitments, I am very glad I can help this organization in some way.  There is a video I did on YouTube for the Fall 2017 GOTR 5K which explains a lot about the program and the event.  You can click here to watch it.  I hope that at some point I can coach, but in the meantime I will spread the word about the organization and contribute in any way I can. 

- Becky Snell, Director of IT & Marketing

Adrienne Castle and The Church at Severn Run

The Church at Severn Run is all about reaching people for Jesus. Our motto is to “Love Well, Live Jesus, and Believe Big”. We want to be a church that emulates the church in Acts, that steps up and sees the needs and the brokenness around us and does something about it (like the parable of the Good Samaritan). We want to exist in such a way that if our doors closed tomorrow, the community would notice and our presence would be missed. In order to accomplish this, we have prayed a lot, and implemented a foundational principal of “Integral Missions”, where we do life outside the walls of the church building in a way that focuses on relationships, and loving people the way God calls us to.

We have several initiatives that we are working on for 2018 including launching a recovery center for the massive Opioid/Addiction problems facing our area. (Anne Arundel County is 4th in the nation right now with overdoses and deaths.) We also are starting ministries geared toward hungry and homeless children and families through backpack programs in the schools and by visiting and forming relationships with people in the many homeless camps in our area. (There are a lot of camps - and many of them have children, especially teens.  Social services often takes the children from the parents.)

Other ministries we run through our campus are things like the Kairos prison ministry, CAP -Christian Assistance Program, Celebrate Recovery, God's Heart, and Operation Christmas Child (OCC). We are not only a regional OCC drop off center, but each year we have several hundred people sign up to go to the processing center hub in Columbia and help them get the boxes packed, inspected, and shipped. (Adrienne and her son Gavin took Cindy French's son Tyler to volunteer recently for OCC, pictured left.) 

We also currently partner with a few amazing local ministries including the Transformation Center, The Well, and The Broken Wall that are also living out Integral Missions.  Currently, the Transformation Center in Brooklyn, MD has a weekly clothing and food distribution program for over 100 people and it is growing. We partner with them weekly through resources, food, and volunteers to make it happen. But it doesn’t stop there.  In fact, this is only a stepping stone in the vision they have for the future of the community that includes a scholarship based school, job program, GED program, etc. You can find more information at:

The Transformation Center (click here.)

And their Facebook page (click here.)

The Well runs mentorship programs, especially for at risk women and children in the Curtis Bay area. They want to empower people to change, so it's not a hand out, it’s a help up. We just partnered with them for their Christmas toy store where over 1200 toys were available at the cost of $2 per toy, so that parents could have Christmas presents for their children. Their vision and information can also be found by clicking on these links for their website and Facebook pages:

The Well (click here.)

And their Facebook page (click here.)

The Broken Wall is in Catonsville and they seek to reach as many people in their area as possible, especially by working through the local school, North Bend Elementary School. They have been welcomed with open arms into the community and the school in order to bring about lasting change for the better.  They do a lot with the youth in the area and are able to reach them through activities especially sports.  You can find their information by clicking on these links:

The Broken Wall (click here.)

And their Facebook page (click here.)

For more information about The Church at Severn Run you can click here.

Adrienne Castle is one of Dankmeyer's Patient Services Coordinators.  Many of the projects she lists above are independent of the church.  She notes that many school programs require community service to graduate and some of the links she provides above might be helpful to those looking for ideas to complete their service hours.  Prison and addiction programs are limited to those 18 and over.



Nancy Lee and Operation Welcome Home Maryland

I don't know where the patriotic gene comes from, but I sure do have it, because I love supporting the men and women of our military.   I was ecstatic when Chad and I stumbled upon the group Operation Welcome Home MarylandThrough their organization we found a way to show support for our military that doesn't cost a dime - while making our hearts feel full.  We often feel guilty knowing that we participate, not just for those who serve, but for ourselves.  And it's not just Chad and I who feel that way.  It shows on the faces of all the volunteers, even the school aged students who come to get signed off on their community service credit. 

Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport is one of about six airports where the military return to American soil from overseas.  Two times a week, sometimes more, staff from Operation Welcome Home Maryland meet other volunteers like myself at the International terminal to welcome soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and Coast Guard service members who are returning from overseas.  Along with the hearty welcome, troops receive goodie bags of snacks and water, and assistance, if needed, to the next gate to board a connecting flight. 

Some volunteers show up dressed in red, white and blue, others wave flags or display homemade signs.  Some arrive early to take part in decorating the lobby or to hand out "goodie bags".  One thing is certain, when the International Arrival terminal door opens and the troops start pouring through, everyone finds themselves cheering, clapping and shouting "welcome home!"  On realizing that the crowd is waiting for all of them, soldiers may appear surprised at first, but you can see the appreciation and gratitude in their eyes. 

The first time Chad and I participated, we were immediately swept into handing out goodie bags, giving us an opportunity to be up front, shaking the hand of every soldier.  We were hooked!  Since then, we have witnessed some truly memorable moments:  a soldier kissing the ground, thankful he's back on American soil after a long deployment; a father seeing his newborn son for the first time; the proud parents of a young soldier, tears streaming down their faces, thankful that their boy has made it back home; a young lady proudly holding her sign, waiting anxiously for her fiance to return home.  As you can imagine, it can be pretty emotional, and yes, I've cried a time or two. 

Chad and I encourage everyone to check out  If you can't get to the airport, there are other ways to support the troops.  Operation Welcome Home Maryland accepts donations of cash, store bought pre-packaged single serving snacks such as cookies, crackers, granola bars, candy, and bottled water.  You can even donate your airline miles!  The website also offers many links to other groups who provide support to the military. 

If you're planning a trip to the airport, be sure to call the hotline at 410-630-1555 for a recorded message on the day you'd like to attend.  Some flights get delayed or cancelled, and others could pop up unexpectedly.  The hotline has updated information, will tell you the best time to arrive and provides parking information.

Meet us at the airport and help give these heroes the welcome home they deserve!


Abi Ostrander and Virtual Environments

I have always played video games and even majored in game design in college. I also enjoy creating 3D and 2D art, so when my professor was looking for volunteers to help launch his game lab I was more than happy to help. 

It started as an independent study over the summer where we worked with local residents near a cultural site in Nepal, which had been destroyed by the 2015 earthquake, to recreate buildings that had stood for hundreds of years. My professor then put our work into a virtual reality system called C.A.V.E, computer assisted virtual environment. This allowed users to move through the recreation of this cultural site and interact with different structures to learn about the history of the area. The goal of the project was to try and preserve the history and importance of these structures that are now lost.

After completing this project, our attention switched to preserving historic sites closer to home. We started with the Inner Harbor and the historic buildings surrounding it, such as the Domino Sugar Factory. As the project progressed we began to include Maryland’s rich history of ships and ship building, with the intention of providing this application for K-12 student education. As a game lab assistant I worked hard to promote the importance of digital preservation and education; I even presented our work at key events such as the Experimental Learning Showcase at the University of Baltimore.

Abi Ostrander, Patient Services Representative

NOTE: Abi's group efforts were featured in an article this summer in The Baltimore Sun.  You can click here to read it.

Toni Robinson and the Life and Breath Foundation

Toni and husband Scott.

As a Practice Liaison with Dankmeyer, Toni Robinson enjoys helping others live the fullest lives they can through using the right prosthetics and orthotics.  And, through her work with the Life and Breath Foundation, she helps many others who live with sarcoidosis, a complex inflammatory disease that commonly affects the lungs and lymph nodes, but can also attack the brain, eyes, kidneys and more. 

Toni was diagnosed with sarcoidosis early in the 2000s, and while her sarcoid symptoms have been in remission since 2007, she still works diligently to educate others about the disease, and offer ways to find the right treatment.  For example, Toni recently appeared on the cover of Baltimore Style magazine, and informed its readers about Life and Breath’s Flip Flop Festivus, an annual gala happening at the Four Seasons in Baltimore on Friday, September 15th.

Through her dedication to Life and Breath, Toni continues to help others live their best lives, as well as living hers.  To learn more about Life and breath, and to purchase tickets to Flip Flop Festivus, click here.

Through her dedication to Life and Breath, Toni continues to help others live their best lives, as well as living hers.  To learn more about Life and breath, and to purchase tickets to Flip Flop Festivus, click here.


Art Ross and the Kinetic Sculpture Race

Art Ross, Fabrication Technician, contributes this story.

On the first Saturday of May for the past 19 years, a bit of insanity has descended on the city of Baltimore in the form of the Kinetic Sculpture Race.

Kinetic Sculptures are amphibious, human powered works of art custom built for the race. Each May, the American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM) hosts the East Coast Kinetic Sculpture Race Championship on the shore of Baltimore’s Harbor in central Maryland.  The eight-hour race covers 14 miles—mostly on pavement, but also including a trip into the Chesapeake Bay and through mud and sand.

For the last six years I have had the fun of working as a volunteer at this event. I have concentrated my efforts into the group known as the “flock of chickens”. The task of this group is to engage the crowd that is viewing the race and collect votes for the most popular sculpture. Each year the race has a theme that isn’t announced until several weeks before the event. One year the first Saturday of May happened to be on the 5th so that year the theme was Cinco de Mayo.  Last year it was Myths and Monsters and this year the theme was Food - coinciding with an exhibit at the Museum. Each year it is a bit of a race to revise or rebuild my chicken costume to match the theme.  Here I am, in costume as a Cinco de Mayo chicken, FrankenChicken, and a Chicken Sandwich.

I have added my own touch to the assigned task. In addition to collecting votes, I hand out Dum Dum brand suckers. I give them out to the kids of course, but I make an effort to give them to adults as well. The delight on the face of a “grandmother” who is always giving but never expecting to be offered a treat is especially fun. Last year I gave out about 600 of these treats. 

It’s amazing how many social “norms” you can break when you are dressed in a silly costume, not the least of which is taking candy from a stranger. 

To see the sculptures or for more information see:

Kristin Boswell and Her Cause for Paws

Kristin with her Beagles, Peyton and Minnie.

Growing up I was fortunate to be the proud owner of all sorts of pets - dogs, cats, gerbils, guinea pigs, fish, every box turtle I could find to bring home, even a rabbit at one time.  So, it’s really no surprise how much of a bleeding heart I have when it comes to four legged (sometimes even three legged) creatures.  Every animal, no matter how big or small, deserves a great home.  For all these reasons, at the end of a fulfilling week of enriching the lives of Dankmeyer patients, it’s off to help those who are unable to help themselves.  To find homes for those who have no means to find their own home.  To love those who might not feel loved. 

Kristin with a family member's rescue dogs.

Many of my weekend days throughout the year are spent at fundraising walks and events to support homeless animals and shelter adoption.  Being able to promote awareness and simply advocating for animals provides me with the opportunity to enrich even more lives throughout many different communities.  These annual fundraising events are about saving lives, both human and furry.

Most recently, my husband and I, along with Dankmeyer’s resident 3D dog Digit, participated in the MuttNation March in Nashville, TN to support the MuttNation Foundation and their efforts to raise awareness for the countless shelter pets who are desperate to find their forever home.  Over 1,000 people participated in the inaugural MuttNation March, raising well over $15,000 for homeless animals.  Sixty shelter dogs were also adopted out over the course of four days!  This even made Digit’s tail wag!

There really are no words to describe the feeling you get when participating in events to promote awareness of homeless and abused animals and helping them find their forever home.  Each event has not only allowed me to give back to the community, but has enriched my life as well.    

(You can read about Digit's trip with Kristin and Richard by clicking here.)   

Coach Courtney and Lacrosse

Our first contributor is Courtney Booth, Patient Services Coordinator.  Five days a week you can find Courtney hidden behind the high cubicle walls of Dankmeyer’s Linthicum office, working diligently to provide the best customer care possible.  When she is not busy attending to patients on the phone, working with insurance companies, or sorting through prosthetic and orthotic coding during the day, you can find her running around with 3rd and 4th graders on the lacrosse field.  Now that her daughter is old enough, Courtney can share her longtime passion with 9-year old Grace. 

Courtney started playing lacrosse at the age of eight in Annapolis and was immediately hooked on the sport.  Holding a lacrosse stick came naturally to her and she continued to play for many years.  Now, as an adult, she has gotten back into the game - not running up and down the field chasing the ball, but from the sidelines as a coach!  Here is a little bit about Coach Courtney and her lacrosse team Storm. 

‘I started coaching my daughter’s Sticklettes team last year.  This is the first level of lacrosse for 5-7 year old girls.  Coaching was something I had always considered but never really took the leap.  When the lacrosse organization came up short and needed coaches, I was asked to volunteer.  Of course, I couldn’t turn down the smiles and pleas from my 8-year daughter and decided to try my hand as Coach Courtney.    Now in my second year of coaching, moving up to the Peewee level as my daughter continues to progress, I have found a new way to love lacrosse all over again.  We practice two days a week and play games against other teams all across Anne Arundel County.  Coaching has been an excellent way to relieve stress, clear the mind, and have some fun.  It has also been a perfect way to work in exercise - trying to keep up with a bunch of 8- and 9-year old spunky, energetic girls. 

Not only has coaching made a positive impact in my life physically and mentally, it has been a great way to give back to the community and meet some new friends.  As our wonderful season comes to an end, it has been extremely rewarding to see the girls improve over the last ten weeks using the skills and fundamentals I have been teaching them.  I look forward to continuing on as Coach Courtney for many years to come.  GO STORM!!’