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Film director receives award, recognizes Lyme community

Posted Dec 13 2008 10:07pm


On November 13th, Turn The Corner Foundation hosted its annual gala fundraising event at Gotham Hall in New York City. The Vision of Hope Award was presented to UNDER OUR SKIN Director Andy Abrahams Wilson for his work on the film. In addition, the film’s Senior Producer Kris Newby served as one of the event chairs, and Jordan Fisher Smith was also honored with a Courage Award at the event. Excerpts from the film were shown on a large screen to the rapt audience, and several subjects from the film were also in attendance, including Mandy, Elise, Dr. Jemsek, and Dr. Raxlen, who was honored with a Humanitarian Award. It was a successful and celebratory evening, with funds raised going to Turn The Corner’s several Lyme initiatives, including support for the theatrical release of the film. Check back here soon to see photos from the event.

Below is the text of Andy’s speech as he accepted his award. It is a message to the entire Lyme community:

“What an honor to be here tonight to receive the Vision of Hope Award! Words that are dear to me: vision and hope—and award!

This has been an incredible journey for me as a filmmaker and individual these past several years at the helm of UNDER OUR SKIN. I started the project with little more than compassion and curiosity—and perhaps courage (or craziness), given I had no funding at all at the time. But at the onset there was no great vision of hope—and I’m glad.

Because what I went through was nothing less than the transformation of my soul. It was not just an ideal. Hope as an abstract. Or a cause to champion. An axe to grind. My being was changed irrevocably by what I witnessed: suffering, injustice, and deafening silence. And above all: the courage of so many to persevere, to fight for life amidst the eclipse of light: the pain, fear, loneliness, and the mantra ‘It’s all in your head.’ I was changed by the responsibility to do justice to the people who entrusted me with the only sure thing that remained amidst a disease which robbed them of everything they knew: their story.

We’ve been thrown together by shared, lived stories about the adversity of a disease, and its denial. What an unlikely reason to gather. And yet what also draws us together is the knowledge that together we can make a difference—not just for ourselves, but for others behind us, or next to us, who don’t have a voice, have less resources, or simply have given up. Our vision of hope is that together we can turn the corner.

In every struggle there’s a point where the vision of a few becomes universal, where what’s seen as primarily a community’s concern enters public consciousness and shifts public perception. We’ve seen it with civil rights, women’s rights, AIDS, global warming, and soon gay rights: The point where the cause is championed by the many, not just the few who would seem to benefit directly. Where it is understood that the well being of others affects our own well being, and the threat to others is a direct threat to ourselves. That we are linked. We are linked.

That is where we stand today, linked—at the verge of the tipping point. We cannot give up holding the vision or maintaining the hope, or giving everything we can: our money, our sweat, our love. Because the shift is not assured. But it is near.

So tonight I feel proud and humbled to be recognized for vision of hope in the Lyme disease struggle. For what I have envisioned and imagined is simply a reflection of what and whom I have seen and come to know. I owe this award to you, some of you here: Mandy and Jordan and Kris and Kathy and Elise. And some of you missed: Alan, and Leslie—a fallen hero.

I thank ALL the UNDER OUR SKIN film subjects who shared their stories in the vision of helping and healing, even as their own hope diminished.

I thank Eva and all the UNDER OUR SKIN crew who shared their great talents and care.

I thank you, Turn The Corner Foundation, for your own vision of hope, and for entrusting our film and your support of it with this vision.

And I thank all of you here tonight who embody compassion, curiosity–and courage, who envision change, and have hope and faith that the tipping point really is around the corner.”

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