From across the Internet…
July 2001 in Philadelphia, two members of the ACOR support group for Esophageal Cancer invited anybody and everybody from the Internet-based discussion group into their home. Connie (a caregiver) and Walt DeLury (a survivor) hosted people, who themselves were EC patients or caregivers. EC brought them together.
Almost 50 people attended at one time or another during the event — and the event was a success! While people were playing bocce ball or eating, they shared their “war stories”. It was amazing how much people had in common with each other. One of the funniest events was the “scar contest”. People’s eating habits and menu choices were not like the average picnic.
It was obvious that the picnic was a hit. And more importantly, it was obvious that a new organization would be a great asset to those new patients and caregivers that would surely come to be in the years to come — what would be known as the Esophageal Cancer Awareness Association.
In July 2002, the DeLurys held their second annual EC picnic. Many of the same folks attended as did the prior year with some more newcomers as well. The Saturday picnic was another wonderful success. The following day was the first official meeting of the ECAA at the Doubletree Hotel in Philadelphia.
During that meeting elections were held to set the first ECAA Board of directors in place. Jim Gillett was the very first elected President for the ECAA. Jim was a professor from Cornell University and also a patient. Also elected: Connie Delury, Marc Wolfgram, Ron Ginnetty, Russ Kiessig, Tom Kurzidem, Tom Haynes, Steve Preston and Jim Stasiak.
In the months to follow, the ECAA became incorporated, set up by-laws and put things into motion to obtain 501(c)3 status. With the help and hard work of Russ Kiessig that status was obtained on June 2nd of 2004. Having non-profit status would open doors for the organization in the years that followed and make us the organization we are today.