BY JUDY CARMACK BROSS
Just once and a while, if you are fortunate, you are given the chance to see how tremendous tragedy evolves into an opportunity to help others. The magnificent team of Joyce and Dusty Sang empower everyone they meet with their commitment to the memory of their son Ryan Licht Sang, the DuPaul graduate and artist who died in 2004.
Even as they left their young son’s funeral, they knew that they would treasure Ryan’s memory by promoting research into the disease that took his life. Events that combine cutting edge research with camaraderie often co-hosted by Ryan’s young friends in glorious locations in both Chicago and Palm Beach, help raise funds and awareness for the cause.
Over 175 people recently attended The Ryan Licht Sang Bipolar Foundation Medical Briefing Luncheon, entitled Early-Onset Bipolar Disorder: Today & Tomorrow, featuring a panel discussion on the current state of medicine and research on Bipolar Disorder, a serious medical illness of the brain.
Joyce told us: “We created the Foundation to change the course of Bipolar Disorder so that other children would not have to be Ryan and other parents would not have to be us. We are continually moved by the stories from others on how Ryan’s life has helped to break the stigma associated with Bipolar Disorder. And we are inspired every day to see so many of Ryan’s friends enthusiastically help to carry on his legacy through the works of the Foundation.
“This year’s Luncheon featured three world experts. Their collective focus was on the diagnosis and treatment of this medical illness of the brain, along with practical guidance for patients and families on how best to live with it, and the type of treatments to expect in the future.
“The fourth panelist was a dynamic young woman from Florida who is the daughter of a mother with Bipolar Disorder. She shared her very personal and inspirational story of how she was able to cope and thrive despite the impact of her mother’s illness on her and on her family.”
Luncheon chairs Jill Heller, Marla London, Abby O’Neil, and Mamie Walton, as well as honorary chairs Cynthia Curry, Kathy Katz, Leslie Kennedy, and Amy Morro welcomed guests to one of Chicago’s most beautiful private ballroom where tables in the Foundation’s colors of black and white, highlighted with polka dots, stripes, turquoise accents, and white centerpieces added even more sophistication to the day.
Dusty Sang, President of Stay Thirsty Media, Inc. and Publisher of Stay Thirsty Magazine, was the moderator of the panel, which included UCLA professor David Miklowitz, author of The Bipolar Disorder Survival Guide, presented to all attendees thanks to a generous donation from William Blair.
Before the panel discussion began, Joyce presented the 2018 Shining Star Award, the Foundation’s highest honor, to Marla London for her unwavering support, dedication, and commitment to the Foundation and its mission over the past decade.
INSIGHTS II, a juried Art Exhibition at the Zolla Lieberman Gallery May 31-June 2 will showcase the work of artists with bipolar disorder from across the country. Titled Creativity and The Bipolar Brain, the exhibit has as its mission to spread awareness of the illness and to reduce the stigma associated with it.
“Over 325 submissions by artists from all across the United States resulted in a Jury of experts’ selection of twenty pieces of artwork. The twenty artists received a foundation grant that was underwritten by a grant from the Lyon Family Foundation of Chicago, and each artist has donated his or her work to the Foundation’s Permanent Exhibition Collection that will be part of a touring show in the coming years.
“In addition, three celebrity pieces of artwork by artists with Bipolar Disorder, including glass art by Dale Chihuly, ceramic art by film director Paul Dalio, and paintings and drawings by comedian Jonathan Winters, and artwork by Foundation namesake, Ryan Licht Sang, will be on display.”
Buck Betten, one of Ryan’s closest friends, recently paid tribute to Joyce’s work on behalf of her late son:
“I have always been so impressed at how Joyce has turned a tragedy into a sustainable organization that has both increased awareness and funded significant scientific research towards the diagnosis and treatment of a disease that affects so many families. The Sangs have been a second family to me in Chicago, and their efforts to raise exposure and generate resources for bipolar disorder research have made them a true asset to the Chicago community.”
For more information about the Foundation’s work and Insights II, visit ryanlichtsangbipolarfoundation.org.