B. Gowen, a former Belmont, Massachusetts resident,
selflessly volunteered seventeen years of her life
as the Founder and President of the National Scoliosis
Foundation. She is a powerful example of philanthropy
at its best and her dedication and spirit will always
live on in the work of this organization.
Mrs. Gowen showed extraordinary care and compassion
towards Atlabachew Tedla, a 17 year old Ethiopian
student suffering from the effects of a severe 143
degree abnormal lateral curvature of the spine (scoliosis).
She sponsored Atlabachew in this country and helped
him achieve his dream of higher education as he
ultimately graduated from Tabor Academy and Macalester
College. In her endeavor to get medical treatment
for Atlabachew, she networked a team of friends
and allies. With her team she raised $56,000 for
Atlabachew's hospital costs, and convinced Dr. Edward
Riseborough, Chief of Orthopedics at Children's
Hospital, to perform two surgeries free of charge.
He in turn provided the guidance and directive to
Laura Gowen to let the world know about scoliosis
and the crucial importance of early detection. This
directive, nurtured by Mrs. Gowen's desire to help
others and the encouragement of her "team",
led to the birth of the National Scoliosis Foundation.
Gowen utilized the focus and vision of several scoliosis
patients, along with the experience of people from
other non-profit organizations, especially the Stoughton
and Framingham Jaycees, to act on this directive
by broadening the volunteer network and converting
good intentions into quantifiable, achievable results.
With contagious zeal she recruited a cadre of volunteer
lawyers, CPA's, medical professionals, health officials,
politicians, and businessmen to use their expertise
and support and to guide the National Scoliosis
Foundation through its formation, development and
Gowen's compassion and generosity extended beyond
Atlabachew Tedla to benefit thousands of children
in Massachusetts and tens of thousands of families
throughout the world. Mrs. Gowen retired in 1992,
but she remains an Honorary Director and a benefactor.
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