The Brattleboro Retreat's 175th Anniversary Celebration this past Saturday evening was by any account a huge success.
The event raised over $130,000 and was sold out with over 400 guests attending. The entertainment featured a great, young Swing band from Boston with an American Idol top 10 finalist, 2004's John Stevens, as vocalist. And perhaps most strikingly, the special guest speaker, Emmy and Tony Award winning actor Ken Howard, gave a very moving account of dealing with his younger brothers struggles with mental illness and addiction.
Howard, who spoke of his brother as "stunningly smart" and talented in sports, music and theater, said this was the first time he was sharing this painful story publicly. His brother died of renal failure in 1999 at the age of 47, a condition that was the direct result of his advanced alcoholism.
Choking back his emotions at times during his talk, Howard admitted that he personally had "had enough to drink for two lifetimes," but felt that he had a strong story to tell, noting that not many families were unaffected by mental illness and addictions.
Following his pesentation, Howard was surprised to become the first recipient of the Anna Marsh Award honoring advocacy from mental illness.