News Releases

Former Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Marrow Transplant Patients to Celebrate Life at a Reunion in Seattle

The Legacy of the Hutchinson Center - More Than 500 Marrow Transplant Survivors to Converge on the Hutchinson Center One More Time to Share Life and Successes

Seattle - Sharing memories, dreams and hopes for the future, veterans of the battle with cancer and other life-threatening diseases will converge on Seattle August 3-5, 2000, for Spirit of Seattle 2000, a former patient reunion.

Celebrating life will be the highlight of this three-day whirlwind affair. Attendees include friends and family members of hundreds of people who underwent a bone marrow or stem cell transplant at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in the last 25 years.

As hosts of the patient reunion, the Hutchinson Center has planned a number of activities including a celebration luncheon and dinner plus presentations on the latest research findings and workshops on topics of interest to the former patients and their families.

This is the third former patient reunion hosted by the Center. The first reunion was held in 1988 with the second in 1994. Patients five or more years post transplant are invited to the Hutchinson Center.

The Spirit of Seattle Reunion is a prelude to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center's 25th anniversary celebration beginning in September. These veterans, and the many others, who have crossed the Center's threshold in a search for a cure, bring meaning to the research efforts at the Center. Their lives are a result of teamwork - combining knowledge, strength, courage and dedication on the part of the patient, the families and Center staff.

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"I would like to thank all the wonderful doctors, nurses and staff at the Fred Hutch for caring and curing me while I was in the hospital."

Sharyn Kanada
Kaneohe, Hawaii
January 1984

"I was diagnosed with Aplastic Anemia in 1975. My primary oncologist refused to advise a trip to Seattle for an experimental procedure called a bone marrow transplant, because he considered it to be very foolish for my parents to bring me to Seattle simply to die 1,200 miles away from home. However, there were also two young residents assigned to my case, they had no plan to take no for an answer. They lied about my physical condition to the Seattle doctors, and arranged for an Air Force hospital place to fly me to Seattle. Once we arrived in this strange, far away city, I was taken to the Public Health Hospital on Beacon Hill to the seventh-floor, home of the miracle workers that were led by Don Thomas and his unbelievable staff. Their prognosis was beyond grim…they offered less than five-percent chance that I would survive. That was 29 years ago, and here I am, the second longest survivor of a bone marrow transplant in the world. In the precious words of Paul Harvey, "now you know the rest of the story!"

Steven McCarty
Kent, Washington
August 1975

"The nurses and doctors were so wonderful that they inspired me to become a nurse. I became an R.N. and have worked in the field of oncology, hospice and home health."

Jennifer Jo Caesar
Fiddletown, California
November 1977

"I work with the local cancer support group (Operation Uplift) to show patients that survival and a great lifestyle are possible after cancer. I also stress the importance of caregivers as my husband died in 1993 of lung cancer so I have seen both sides of the cancer picture."

Mary Acker
Sequim, Washington
December 1988

"I feel very blessed to be alive today, 23 years later. I will be forever thankful for Fred Hutchinson, all the doctors and nurses, and, of course, Dr. Thomas. Without them I would not be here today."

Ariel Shimondle
Seattle, Washington
August 1977

"I was told I had two years to live with no options. Finding an answer was very difficult because all the oncologists I talked with told me there was no hope. I was finally told months later that one possibility was a bone marrow transplant and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center was the best place to go."

Jean Durko
Lake Zurich, IL
November 1984

"The Hutch will always hold a special place in our hearts, especially the people."

Stanley Whitcomb
Carefree, Arizona
February 1991

"They referred me to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington, where I was cured and sent back home and am feeling very good. The doctors, nurses and staff were wonderful people, very polite and very caring."

Leroy Yost
Billings, Montana
March 1995

"…part of my post-transplant experience is the gratitude I feel toward the wonderful people who nurtured me through this journey - medical personnel, family members, my donor, and friends. I was blessed and remain blessed. The blessings began with a trusted family doctor who told me to seek the best medical facility I could afford for this transplant…the best doctors available…which led me to select Fred Hutchinson and its medical staff."

Marla Murphy
Livonia, Michigan
November 1991

"After five years, Mom remains in remission. She has faced medical difficulties in those years, but has met them all with an incredible inner strength. She is very thankful for her care at the Hutch. She believes that the kindness and care she received from the staff saved her life. Our family is thankful to have her with us. She is an incredible person and an inspiration."

Christine Calhoun about Cathleen Pape
Tenino, Washington
March 1995

"The Hutch Family, at least that's what I felt like I was in, are truly amazing people. As you walk in you can feel all the warmth around you; they are there to make your stay a success. Without my support teams: my family, friends, church, community and Hutch, I would not be here. Thanks to you all."

Patti Binski-Walden
Cosmopolis, Washington
August 1986

"For the past 14 years I have worked for home IV Infusion Company, enabling me to use my insight and past experience to help others. In a nutshell, life is good, but never easy!"

Claude Ritter
Oregon City, Oregon
July 1978

"I had been planning to be married before I became ill. My fiancée came to Seattle the second week after my transplant. The day we were told that the bone marrow test showed that my graft was showing activity, Jim asked me 'again' to marry him…. We were married in my LAF room…. We were able to spend the next 10 years celebrating those life events that many take for granted. Jim passed away in 1994 from a heart problem, but we both were happy to have those years together thanks to the gift of life from my sister and the Hutch."

Vicki Turnbull
Lexington, Kentucky
May 1984

"The Hutch's protocols were considerably advanced, as compared to its competition. The patient support staff is well managed and customer oriented. My nurse, Mary Hinds, was my guardian angel. Knowing the Hutch's indisputable scientific achievements this far, along with its innovative and collaborative approach, gives me hope, and without hope, life is not worth living."

Jill Bennett
Seattle, Washington
September 1994

"I feel I have and am continuing to survive some incredible odds."

Teresa Anderson
Bremerton, Washington
January 1993

"On December 1, 1996 (my second transplant, my first transplant was in 1986), I had a very successful bone marrow transplant, had a perfect match from my sister. All was wonderful for several years. I returned to Japan to teach. I became pregnant. While undergoing pregnancy related medical tests, the doctors found my leukemia had returned. I had my baby, a miracle, Matthew at 30 weeks. I had another bone marrow transplant in July 1996 and it was another great success!"

Margaret Burns
Spokane, Washington
December 1986 and July 1996

"Since I was the oldest person to ever have this procedure, my chance of survival was very low. There were many ups and downs during the first year, but I was determined to beat the odds. I'll never forget the eerie feeling of entering the cobalt room for my first radiation treatment and hearing the large, heavy door slam shut behind me. Memories also include being a part of the transplant team rather than just a number. Thanks to that 'Fred Hutch' team, I'm now leading a normal, active life."

Donald Prewitt
Lynnwood, Washington
November 1994

"I thank all of the staff that were there for me and, most of all, I thank God for giving them the wisdom to treat those who need it."

Irene Hook
Milton, Washington
November 1985

"You hear about getting a new lease on life. Most of us that end up with the big 'C' seem to experience this. We learn to let go of the small things and live a minute, hour or day at a time. It is never easy for any or most of us. I must say there has never been a dull moment. I have never stopped or slowed down my life. What a wonderful life! I enjoy every day. Prayer has gotten me through this."

Tha Sterling Pence
El Paso, Texas
August 1990

"…my colleagues in Bethel School District to cover donor search and recovery in Seattle, they were, and are, my angels on earth. My first grandchild was born three months after diagnosis. We are now raising him, one friend says 'he's the reason I survived.' Linda Cassidy, my donor, came from England to visit the U.S. for the first time in April 1998. My daughter, Megan, graduated from Seattle University in medical technology. She now works for the University of Washington at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center on Lake Union. Full circle or what?"

JoAnn Trautman
Port Orchard, Washington
September 1994

"I had turned 27 years old when I was diagnosed with CML, and to say it was scary is a huge understatement because I had only known one other person who had had it and he passed away within a very short period of time. All the same I wanted to learn all I could about the disease and choose the best course of action, but most of what you read is outdated in library books and such which can be scary. However, through continued inquiry and advice I was fortunate enough to have been led to FHCRC for a bone marrow transplant. I stored my sperm in New York and Seattle. I am happy to say that I am the proud father of Christopher John Roethel, Jr., and he, my wife, Rosella, and I are all living a happy and healthy life."

Christopher Roethel
Hicksville, New York
March 1989

"My story is a wonderful one. I received the gift of life not only once, but twice. I am a double transplant recipient. I am very fortunate to be alive. I am grateful to my sister Martha, for if it were not for her and her gifts to me I would not be coming to the Fred Hutchinson reunion. Without the help and support from my family, all of these challenges would have been considerably harder. I am also forever grateful to the staff at the Fred Hutchinson."

Mark Duque
Baird, Texas
December 1979

"The transplant was a very stressful experience, but one I am glad I opted for. Today, my wife and I look forward to the time when we can retire. The life I have led and continue to lead as well as our dreams of retirement would not have been possible if it weren't for the treatment I received at the Hutch."

Joe Cloud
Bothell, Washington
April 1990

"Most of my memories are of the people who comprise Fred Hutchinson. They are the essence of the Hutch, and they are the ones who exemplify the goals of the organization. …I had already decided to take the only chance for a possible cure, and the visit confirmed my doctor's opinion that the Hutch, pioneering the unrelated donor transplant program, was the best place for treatment."

Janis Jordan
Fayetteville, Georgia
August 1994

"Nothing prepares you for the impact of a terminal diagnosis. When it comes, like a Mac truck hitting you head on, the only thing to do is to find your physic feet, catch your breath and hobble through it, doing the next right thing, one day at a time….My recovery, though it seemed forever until I felt 'normal' again, was relatively trouble free and today I am in excellent health. The journey through diagnosis, treatment and recovery was an odyssey that I continue to be grateful for, though I wouldn't have volunteered for it and I wouldn't sign up to repeat it. A highlight of my 'after' life, was my marriage to my transplant primary caregiver, David Edward. It is a great pleasure and a true honor to be able to attend the Spirit of Seattle 2000 as a gesture of thanks to the incredible team at Fred Hutchinson and to demonstrate to others that complete recovery is possible."

Helen Kerner
Larkspur, California
December 1993

"It took me a long time to really start feeling like I could do everything I wanted to do. I would say that it took me three years to say that I was recovered. Thank you Fred Hutch!"

Kenneth Ridenour
Phoenix, Arizona
October 1994

"I credit much of my recovery to my family doctor, Dr. Gerald Ellison, Dr. Wendy Eider (who accidentally diagnosed me), my oncologist, Dr. Tom Boyd in Yakima, Drs. Nash and Storb at the Fred Hutch, my nurses Linda Maracich, Sherri Bush and all the support staff at the Fred Hutchinson. Life is Good!"

Lanette Robinson
Yakima, Washington
August 1988

"We have every reason to be thankful to Dr. Thomas and his assistants for their knowledge and insight into developing this program. God bless them all! Medical science made survival possible, but there were times when medical science was found wanting. In these cases other factors took over. There was faith in the Lord, desire to see the kids' raised and sheer stubborn determination that brought Masel through this. All these things combined with the prayers of so many people are why she is alive today and how she was able to raise our kids and now enjoy our grandchildren. Our lives were changed by these events. Probably in ways we will never know. We were, in some ways, strengthened by our ordeal. I do know, however, that I will never be able to think about it without getting emotional."

Dave Westerfield for Masel Westerfield
Hillsboro, Oregon
August 1974

"I credit my deep faith in God and the work of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center for the miracle I am living each day."

Robert Carl Strom
Kent, Washington
March 1993

"I left Seattle after 100 days and was never so happy to see home again. I feel so blessed that the Hutchinson medical staff, which included Dr. Smith, Dr. Hickman and my nurse, Carol Givens, was there to give me this new lease on life. I am eternally grateful."

Linda Krebsbach
Mosinee, Wisconsin
February 1981

"Fortunately, my friends in Arizona told me about the possibility of bone marrow transplantation. FHCRC was the only transplant center in the USA, which offered to include me into their medical program. On behalf of my whole family, my parents in the Czech Republic, I would like to thank my doctors, particularly Drs. Thomas, Appelbaum and Riddell, who was my attending physician during the difficult time and who became my friend. Thanks for saving my life."

Jan Zmek
August 1989

"Wyoming has always been beautiful, but it never looked quite so good! I have been cancer-free ever since and am convinced that I am cured! I am forever grateful to God as well as the excellent medical and support staff at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (Hutch) and the Swedish Hospital. It truly was answered prayer for my family, my friends and me."

Richard Riggs
Worland, Wyoming
December 1994

"I daily think about, and am thankful, for all the people who helped me get to this point of my life. I remember Murial Siadek assuring me that they at the Fred Hutch were doing everything that they could for me. I believed it then and do now, and I look forward to many more years – thanks to the wonderful technology and dedicated people."

Louis Riley
Touchet, Washington
July 1986

"My survivorship journey began at age 16…after a very shocking and unexpected diagnosis of chronic myelogenous leukemia…for through leukemia I was able to meet my soul mate. Marc, an engaging young man with kind brown eyes and a warm smile also had the same for of leukemia and was studying to be a doctor. Unfortunately, weeks before our scheduled wedding he relapse…we married earlier. Marc underwent an autologous bone marrow transplant only three months after we were married, in Seattle at the Hutch, which in 1981 was not curative. Life continued. I was a young widow of 21. For over 12 lengthy years, I search for a bone marrow donor worldwide. I had no siblings… As I celebrate my 23rd year since diagnosis and nine year anniversary since the transplant, I reflect upon my survival. Twenty-three years ago, I did not know if G-d would grant me another day, much less 23 more years to my life! G-d renews my life daily. Every day is a blessing, an accent on life."

Sharon Lichtenthal
Brooklyn, New York
May 1991

"My experience in Seattle was great. The doctors, nurses and support staff made me feel right at home. If your spirits got down there was always someone to pick you back up. I will forever be grateful to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center."

Lynda Chibri
Saskatchewan, Canada
March 1974

"I am a fortunate German leukemia patient that found help at the Hutch. Two and a half months of chemical treatment brought extreme weakness, nausea and fever. I denied the threat of death until one of the doctors explained that I only had a three-percent chance to survive without a bone marrow transplant. Doctor Storb offered me a treatment in Seattle in the case of relapse. To find and to give further support I joined the local tumor group and a tumor sports group. We give each other comfort and courage and exchange information. We are especially aware of the beauty of life and the importance of laughter. Once in a while leukemia patients visit or call me asking for advice, I encourage them by telling them my story. My new life is an intense one thanks to Fred Hutchinson Center."

Ursula Pfeifer
Bonn, Germany
October 1989

"When word finally came we had a week to put our affairs in order and prepare for a trip to Seattle. I will never ever forget the unbearable despair I felt at leaving my children to travel across the country into the unknown. I could not, would not, believe there was a possibility I would never see them again. The rest is history. Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center made that history possible. My testimony to life is my husband and children. My most sincere gratitude for that life goes to my exceptional oncologist, Dr. Frances Breen, Jr., Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and its incredible physicians, nursing and support staff, which I couldn't have survived without. Also, my brother and my faith that God knew I was not yet done with the life He had assigned to me."

Sandra Rademacher
Bay City, Michigan
September 1984

"I like to think that now I appreciate things more and don't take things for granted. You know, even though it was hard and trying and there were moments I wanted to just die, this cloud did have a silver lining. That silver lining is my new outlook on life."

J.R. Riggs
Garden Grove, California
October 1994

" I am very thankful for the Hutch and all the great staff, and my docs and nurses here at home for being so quick to jump on my illness and head me to the Hutch for a transplant. I thank you all."

Kathy Morin
Folsom, California
November 1981

"I thank God for leading me to Dr. Oliver Press and the entire staff at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center."

Loy Hibbs, III
Livingston, Texas
March 1991

"My illness was a sleeping giant…I have continuing health problems from all the treatment, but I am very thankful to all those involved in the miracle that cured me of my terminal illness. I would not be alive today if it was not for the work of many caring individuals and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center."

Gloria Barnes
Federal Way, Washington
June 1992

"…I am hoping that all of my fellow patients are in attendance. I pray for them all the time. I will also be remembering my fellow patient, 22-year-old Jim, who didn't make it. Our families stayed in the same apartment house two blocks from the Hutch. Jim and I were the only two patients in our group who had non-Hodgkin's leukemia. God only knows why Jim didn't survive and I did."

Barbara Russell
No. Chelmsford, Massachusetts
February 1991

"So, to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center I went with Mom, Dad, husband and Debbie at my side. Here the dedicated staff gave me a chance to live. They are truly, wonderfully giving people whose caring eyes were all I could see above those surgical masks day after day. I owe my life and future to the Hutch. Not a day goes by when I don't think of something from my time in Seattle. Many of those things that were so unpleasant have drifted to the back while now I remember the love that was shown to me by people who came into my life at such an unpleasant time. I keep photos of Dr. Thomas and Dr. Hickman on my wall. I am so grateful that people at the Hutch have dedicated their lives and energy to give me and others another chance to live. After 16 years, I would like to again thank the folks at the Hutch for giving me back my life, and allowing me to enjoy the people that surround me day after day."

Gale Raspen
Trevose, Pennsylvania
August 1983

"Each year I commemorate my bone marrow transplant by celebrating life. I have taken a hot air balloon ride, ridden a mule into (and out of) the Grand Canyon, gone white-water rafting, taken a seaplane over Lake Washington, and ridden in a racecar at Atlanta Motor Speedway. One of the more special adventures was when I went parasailing over Puget Sound to commemorate my five-year post transplant anniversary. People ask me if I look at life differently since my transplant. I fell that I have grown spiritually, and have renewed awareness, but I have always looked at life as a gift."

Lori Ann Lathangue
Roswell, Georgia
September 1991

"My friend in Europe recommended I have a bone marrow transplant at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle in order to recover completely since I was so ill, and at great risk for dying…Today, I express my thanks, again, to all for their help and encouragement. How lucky and happy I am."

Keiji Aoki
Hamurashi, Tokyo
January 1983

"I can remember with Morgan's help - Dr. Phil, Dr. Henry, Mary the nurse, Beth the nurse, the doctor from Egypt, "Six-finger Mike," Mike the physical therapist, Anthony, Britt, our volunteer, the nurses in the clinic, the pain and toxicity team, Dr. Nelson, the teachers at the Hutch School, and for Morgan-especially Terry, Tracey in the bone marrow bank, the "guy" in the cafeteria, the doorman at the hospital, and, of course, Dr. Jean Sanders, who Morgan was convinced was his match at toughness. And for me there will always be a place in my heart for Susan Shumacher, Morgan's primary nurse. She let me cry. She let me be a mom. She let me be afraid. She taught me go on and on. Most important, she taught me about hope and not giving up. She taught me about trust. I know that if we lived nearer, and if life brought us together in different ways, she would have been a close friend….For me it is about live, unselfishness, thanksgiving, hope, and yes, trust."

Morgan Brunbauer by Prudence Brunbauer (Mom)
Medford, New York
August 1994

"My biggest fear during this times was that, if I didn't survive either the disease or the treatment (the 'Big Fix' as I called it), I wouldn't get to see my boys grow older and they wouldn't remember me. But, lucky me, her I am over nine and one-half-years following diagnosis, and over eight and one-half-years post bone marrow transplant…overall I'm in pretty good health and life is good!"

Alan Walker
Bellevue, Washington
September 1991

"My friend in Europe recommended I have a bone marrow transplant at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle in order to recover completely since I was so ill, and at great risk for dying…Today, I express my thanks, again, to all for their help and encouragement. How lucky and happy I am."

Keiji Aoki
Hamurashi, Tokyo
January 1983

"I would probably have never done so much had my life not been threatened by the imminent death. Through this ordeal I have learned to face turmoil and misfortune with little fear, but much faith in myself and the kindness and love of others. Everyday is a bonus to me now and not knowing what is ahead is where the wisdom of life lies."

Shou-Fang Hu-Moore
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
October 1979

"A few of my best memories from Hutch: the first memory was the day Reggie Jackson came to visit. The news spread the day before that he was coming and there was a sense of excitement until he arrived. The second memory is the day my fiancée went salmon fishing. I could hear people up and down the ward talking about 'the guy with the fish in the parking lot.' He caught a beautiful one. I was unable to share in the bounty as I was in a laminar airflow room, but I hear a few nurses enjoyed it). The people of Seattle are always so accommodating to us mask-wearing strangers. The last memory is of my friend, Barbara Strom, who was one of my nurses. She was always there when I needed a shoulder to cry on or a backgammon partner, she even let me win, at least most of the time!"

Gayle Brady
Stockton, California
August 1978

"Recently I passed the five-year anniversary of my second bone marrow transplant. I'm officially in remission, and I'm doing well. My long-term prognosis is excellent. I feel like I am one of the luckiest people around. I really came close to dying. They gave me poor odds for surviving – only about 15 percent – but I beat the odds. Now people call me a survivor. I like that; I am very proud of that word. My theme song is I will Survive."

Paul Lerner
New York, New York
January 1995

"Since my transplant, I have had cataract surgery on both of my eyes. At 17, my doctors said I was the youngest person he had ever done cataract surgery on. I have had other minor problems, but all in all, now 20 years later, I am alive and basically health."

Lisa Cole
Eugene, Oregon
February 1980

"At the time of my diagnosis, I was a single mother with a seven-month-old son, Liam. For me, the diagnosis was most traumatic as a mother of an infant. Cancer presented as much a spiritual challenge as a physical one, motivating me to dig deep to harness the stamina and spirit to remain strong and vital for my son. In 1995, I founded ALIVE! Foundation, a charitable foundation granting support to cancer programs, principally arts-in-medicine and body/mind programs. Clearly, cancer changed my life. Always, I strive to make the most of my one, precious, life for myself and my son, now six-years-old, and to return the blessings of love and support I was given to others."

Jill Lacefield
Chico, California
August 1995

"The hard part of my illness was telling my children. I knew I would survive, but I had to prepare them that I might not. They, and a lot of family friends, helped me get through the tough times. I learned about support systems, and how to take it one day at a time. I thank God for my doctor, Fred Hutch, and my family."

Maureen Fusco
Providence, Rhode Island
January 1988

"In the years after transplant I have enjoyed just surviving day to day!…I thank God for letting me be a 12-year survivor so I could be called Grandma…I was very proud to shake Dr. Thomas' hand six years ago."

Sharon Phillips
Milwaukie, Oregon
June 1988

"I think back to that time of uncertainty, of unknown, then to the hope of a bone marrow transplant with the hope came special people and a new life: Sharon, who guided and encouraged me in the right direction, David, my brother, the bone marrow donor, he gave unselfishly to me a part of himself, the overwhelming support of my Mom, brothers and sisters, family and friends, the skill and the knowledge of the many doctors and support staff at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and Cindy, who as friend and primary nurse helped me make it through the difficult transplant procedure. My faith in God and the many prayers offered for my benefit were the difference in my recovery."

Joseph Lanclos
Salem, Oregon
January 1993

"…my transplant, unfortunately, did not result in a cure for my illness. However, I am still here on this earth eight and one-half years after diagnosis, because of ongoing cancer research. I am still waiting further new cancer research for that illusive cure."

Dierdre Preston
Seattle, Washington
January 1994

"My wife and I spent 146 days in Seattle, 146 days of care and compassion! The doctors and nurses were fantastic. I say Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center is the greatest medical institution in the world! I praise God for the Hutch and all of the great people who work there. I pray God will continue to bless all of you as he has Renee and I."

Hal Norman
Long Beach, Washington
May 1991

"My admission to Fred Hutch was my wake up to how serious and deadly a disease leukemia really was. For six years it had seemed that this illness was an inconvenience with endless blood tests and pills. Nobody told me I could die and I was determined that this was not a death sentence. My transplant was a success and fairly uneventful. It was made less scary and traumatic by the caring doctors, nurses and staff. There always seemed to be a smiling face or someone to lend an ear. The nurses gave me a 26" Paddington bear, to which this day has a special place in my home as does the Fred Hutch in my heart."

Annette Perry
Pacific, Washington
April 1984

CONTACT: Susan Edmonds
(206) 667-2896

July 20, 2000