Donors (like you) helped this doctor reach her dream

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Donors (like you) helped this doctor reach her dream

UNMC’s Dr. Amy Hellman now leads one of just 39 clinics in the nation that are considered “Centers of Excellence” for Huntington’s Disease.

Amy Hellman grew up in Alliance, Nebraska. Her father worked as a janitor at the post office. Her mother taught kindergarten.

Amy watched her mother battle breast cancer. Seeing the medical professionals in action inspired her dream to become a doctor one day. She worked hard and did well in school.

But the hurdle seemed too high: How could she ever afford to become a doctor?

“It’s because of the generous support of donors like you that I was able to pursue my dream,” she told members of the Burnett Society at their annual luncheon in April on the UNO campus in Omaha.

She is Dr. Amy Hellman now.

She is grateful for the quality education she received as an undergraduate at UNK and then in medical school at UNMC. She is grateful to be back at UNMC now and leading her own clinic that is taking care of the needs of patients with Huntington’s disease.

And she is grateful, she says, “for the opportunity that was given to me.”

She loves to study neurology and movement disorders and Huntington’s disease. She loves her patients. She’s watched them battle so much.

Huntington’s disease is especially cruel.

It’s an inherited disorder that causes gradual degeneration of the brain. It leads to involuntary movements, psychiatric symptoms and dementia.

“The more I learned about the disease, the more my love and passion for these patients grew, and this became my calling. This disease is relentlessly progressive and ultimately fatal. Because of the changes it causes in a person’s personality, judgment, behavior and mobility, it has a huge impact on the entire family.

“But with the right care and support, we can significantly improve the quality of life for the people with Huntington’s Disease as well as their family members.”

In this nation, just 39 clinics are considered “Centers of Excellence” for Huntington’s Disease.

Dr. Hellman’s is one.

Before she created her clinic at UNMC, Nebraskans with Huntington’s disease had to travel to Iowa City for specialty care.

“It has been my dream and is now my privilege to bring these services together to provide for our patients.”

She thanked the crowd.

“When you donate to these scholarship funds, you are providing students like me the opportunity to pursue our dreams. But your generosity spreads so much farther than that.

“With your help, we are able to gain the skills and knowledge we need to give back to Nebraska, to give back to our community, and to make our home a better place.”

The University of Nebraska’s “Our Students, Our Future” fundraising initiative  will help make better futures for us all. The two-year, $200 million initiative runs through 2017. If you would like to help in this effort, please contact the University of Nebraska Foundation at 800-432-3216.

If you would like to join the Burnett Society or learn more about it, please contact the foundation’s Kim Waller at 402-458-1144 or 800-432-3216.

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