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The Drew Sopirak Memorial Program


Drew had graduated with honors from the US Air Force Academy in 1994. He was on his way to pilot training when the illness struck, and he was forced to end his military career. Before attending the Academy, he had been valedictorian of his Brandywine High School class and had served as class president during his junior and senior years. Drew was also a kind and compassionate young man, and many within the communities in which he lived loved him. Unfortunately for all of us, Drew’s illness moved faster than his acceptance of it. Although Drew was trained for combat, he was unable to win the battle with Bipolar Disorder -- on January 27, 1996, the illness took his life.

Drew’s family and friends, many of whom reside within the Wilmington community, established a memorial fund within New Directions to foster community and professional education to help ease the stigma of mental illness and to improve the quality of life for those who suffer from these debilitating illnesses.

With the seed money from Drew’s memorial we took a risk and rented Clayton Hall in April, 1997 and invited noted psychologist and author, Kay Redfield Jamison to speak. It turned out to be our biggest meeting ever, Dr. Jamison spoke to over 800 people and we overflowed Clayton Hall. This program has been offered each year as a service to the Community. While a small admission fee is requested, the program is not a fundraiser.

Programs to-date

Stock # Program Description
2018 Drew Sopirak Memorial Program: The Art of Perseverance.
Speaker: Joseph M. Marshall III .
2017 Drew Sopirak Memorial Program: LAUGH - For the Health of it!.
Speaker: Elaine M. Lundberg, M.A. .
2016 Drew Sopirak Memorial Program: The Change Triangle.
Speaker: Hilary Jacobs Hendel, LCSW .
2015 Drew Sopirak Memorial Program: Learning to Draw the Line.
Speaker: Stephen Propst .
2014 Drew Sopirak Memorial Program: Revolutionizing Recovery.
Speaker: Stephen Propst .
2013 Drew Sopirak Memorial Program: Overcoming the Delusion of "Normal": Finding Hope in the Reality of Difference.
Speaker: Melody Moezzi.
2012 Drew Sopirak Memorial Program: LIVING WITH A MOOD DISORDER: Building Positive Relationships with Ourselves and Others.
Speaker: Dan Gottlieb, Ph.D. .
2011 Drew Sopirak Memorial Program: HOPE HOPELESSNESS AND HEALING: The Journey of Reawakening Joy.
Speaker: Dan Gottlieb, Ph.D. .
2010 Drew Sopirak Memorial Program: Empowering Individuals with Mood Disorders: Raising Awareness - Instilling Hope - Combating Stigma.
Speaker: Carol Kivler
2009 Drew Sopirak Memorial Program: No More Secrets: A Family Speaks about Depression, Anxiety, and Attempted Suicide.
The Gallagher Family
2008 Drew Sopirak Memorial Program: Bipolar Disorder: Life After Diagnosis.
Speaker: Lizzie Simon
2007 Drew Sopirak Memorial Program: Crazy for Life.
Victoria Maxwell performed her one-woman show base on her experience with bipolar disorder
2006 Drew Sopirak Memorial Program: Dump the Stigma and Focus on Recovery.
Speaker: Andy Behrman, author of Electroboy: A Memoir of Mania .
2005 Drew Sopirak Memorial Program: Exuberance and Mania.
Speaker: Kay Redfield Jamison, Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry, The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
2004 Drew Sopirak Memorial Program: Children and Depression.
A Panel Discussion with: Ms. Abigail Parker (childhood depressive/bipolar); Ms. Sarah Merryman (Parent of bipolar child); Ms. Karen Dickinson (School Counselor); Dr. Ellen Gay (Child Pychologist); Dr. Peter Zorach (Child Psychiatrist).
2003 Drew Sopirak Memorial Program: Depression and our Youth.
Speaker: David Satcher, M.D., 16th Surgeon General of the United States
2002 Drew Sopirak Memorial Program: Tragedy and Hope in Severe Depression.
Speaker: Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, winner of the 2001 National Book Award for Nonfiction.
2001 Drew Sopirak Memorial Program: A Family's Perspective: The Toll of Mood Disorders on Their Relationships.
Speakers: Martha Manning, Ph.D., Brian Depenbrock, L.C.S.W., and their daughter, Keara.
2000 Drew Sopirak Memorial Program: Suicide and Its Prevention.
Speaker: Kay Redfield Jamison, Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry, The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
1999 Drew Sopirak Memorial Program: Feeling Good About Yourself.
Speaker: David Burns, M.D., author of Feeling Good.
1998 Drew Sopirak Memorial Program: The Myth of Mental Illness.
Speakers: Art Buchwald, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and columnist, author of Leaving Home and 27 other books; and Tracy Thompson, Washington Post reporter and author of The Beast: A Journey Through Depression.
1997 Drew Sopirak Memorial Program: Passages of a Wounded Healer: Lessons from the Life of Kay Redfield Jamison.
Speaker: Kay Redfield Jamison, Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry, The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.