Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., MD
As we have come to understand the critical factors in the development of coronary disease, the challenge has become how to communicate this information to the medical profession and to the public. Experience suggests that we cannot do that alone. To meet the challenge, we need strategic allies, and there are no greater allies than Michael D. Eisner and the Walt Disney Company.
Our alliance began with serendipity. My brother-in-law, George Crile III, introduced me to Tony Schwartz, a journalist who was collaborating on a book project with Mr. Eisner. Interchanges with these individuals led to an introduction of conference goals to Mr. Eisner and the Walt Disney Company. Mr. Eisner, who had helped conceive the educationally oriented Disney Institute, recgnized the importance of the summit's educational goals and joined us as an authentic partner in a mission that we cannot hope to master on our own. He helped support the summit, giving his time and creative energy in the belief that the US public deserves to be armed with current information about the impact of diet and lifestyle on health.
So it is with this background that all of the partic ipants in this summit--Michael Eisner and the Disney Foundation, my colleagues and I at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, and all the members of our distinuished faculty and the other participants--have come together to create this series of articles that we hope will be read and taken to heart by the readers of this Journal, with the goal of bringing about a mean ingful change in the etiology and prognosis of the number one cause of mortality in the world today.
Excerpted from a letter from Tony Schwartz to Caldwell Esseistyn, Jr., illustrating how Disney came to join with the Cleveland Clinic in bringing about this summit:
To: Essy Esselstyn
As a journalist, I have been writing about the role of lifestyle factors in disease for much of the past decade. In addition, my own father has been suffering from advanced heart disease for a number of years. It was in a conversation with your brother-in-law George Crile that I heard about work you were doing in using a carefully monitored, low-fat diet as a primary means of treating patients with advanced heart disease.
In November 1996, I arranged to bring my father out from New York to see you in Cleveland. Both my father and I were impressed by your commitment to your patients and by the study that you had recently published documenting your success. You invited us to your house where you and your wife treated us to a nonfat vegetarian lunch, including several whole-grain breads and 2 delicious vegetable soups. My father and I left Cleveland that day committed to the nonfat diet that you prescribed. I myself took up the diet several months later.
In the course of our conversation over lunch, you mentioned that you were in the midst of helping to organize a second national conference on the subject of cholesterol, diet, and heart disease. As it happened, I was in the midst of collaborating on a book with Michael Eisner, the Chairman of the Walt Disney Company. Mr. Eisner himself had a quadruple heart bypass operation in the summer of 1994 and has been eating a strict, no-fat diet ever since. It struck me that he and Disney might be interested in hosting the conference that you had in mind. I thought it would be an ideal event for the Disney Institute, the new educationally oriented resort on the grounds of Walt Disney World, which Mr. Eisner helped to conceive. When I brought the idea of sponsoring the conference to Mr. Eisner, he was immediately enthusiastic.
Acknowleclgment: It is with pride and appreciation that we acknowledge the vision, personal dedication, assistance, and support of Mr. Eisner and the Walt Dis ney Company, and Tony Schwartz. I would also like to thank and acknowledge the efforts of the following members of the Disney team: Diane Hancock, Rich Morrison, Ron Nicodemus, Mary Roche, Chris Coor, Dianna Morgan, George Aguel, and Al Weiss. Similarly, I extend a word of appreciation to the following individ uals from the Cleveland Clinic: Dennis L. Sprecher, MD, Fredric J. Pashkow, MD, Abraham Brickner, PhD, Sandi Kaucic, Donna Jaclcman, Phyllis Marino, Holly Birrer, Robin Moss, and Sandy Gobozy. The opportunity for interaction with members of the faculty was made pos sible through the seminars that were moderated by the following members of the Cleveland Clinic staff: Gor don Blackburn, PhD, Abraham Brickner, PhD, Richard Garcia, MD, Byron J. Hoogwerf, MD, Michael Lauer, MD, Douglas S. Moodie, MD, Jeffrey W. Olin, DO, Fredric J. Pashkow, MD, Dennis L. Sprecher, MD, and Cheryl E. Weinstein, MD.
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