Over 175 community members and state dignitaries made the drive over to Kissito PACE in Roanoke to witness a rather unconventional grand opening. Speakers included Terry Smith of the Department of Medical Assistance Services, House of Delgates member Onzlee Ware of the 11th district, global anti-poverty pioneer Cabell Brand, Tom Clarke CEO of Kissito, and Sean Pressman Executive Director Kissito PACE. The theme and the message was heard loud and clear: PACE is the alternative to a nursing home and our seniors now have the option and the services available to them to age in place in their home and community.
The day started off when Sean Pressman warned everybody that “Kissito was a non-conventional organization and the grand opening they chose to attend would be a non-conventional break through event.” Boy was was he right. Willie Amos the the 11th strongest man in the world strapped on a harness and started the event by pulling the 28,000 pound Kissito PACE participant bus single-handedly out from in front of the PACE center entrance.
Speakers then went one by one touting their own personal experience and beliefs about how PACE is the answer to remaining safely in the community for seniors. Cabell Brand, founder TAP at the ripe age of 90 spoke eloquently about the need for PACE and the pleasure he feels now that he knows the communities of Southwest Virginia finally have all inclusive care for their seniors. Terry Smith and her team from the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services spoke of the importance PACE has in the healthcare system and how PACE is the only coordinated care for the elderly that is local and not fragmented. Tom Clarke CEO of Kissito spoke of the journey and the passion it took to get the reality of PACE and thanked many individuals and teams that made it all possible.
Just when you thought all 175 were headed for a ribbon cutting and something to eat inside the Kissito PACE center, Wham-O! Willie Amos comes crashing through a 7 foot cinder block wall with words spray painted on it that symbolized the barriers that existed up until now for seniors to be able to receive the coordinated services they need to remain safely in their homes.
Busted up cinder blocks littered the ground. Everybody was in shock and awe of the spectacle. Symbolic blocks and pieces were scooped up by dignitaries and guests alike as a memento of the occasion.
The event wrapped up with tours and delicious catered food, photo opps and media interviews. A great time was had by all.
Here is the TV coverage:
WSLS News Channel 10
WDBJ 7 News