Have You Met?

Everyone has tragic and life-threatening moments in their lives, and Cindy Acree is no exception. What IS exceptional about Cindy is her determination to rise up and claim victory over any obstacle in her way.

At the age of 21, Cindy had her first epilepsy-related seizure. After visiting the Mayo Clinic, Massachusetts General Hospital, and too many specialists to recount, she was told: “You can’t drive, you can’t have children, and don’t even think about going anywhere without a buddy.”

Today, she is married, the mother of three, and she drives herself all over town, (unaccompanied, thank you very much.)

She is quick to give credit to the Colorado Neurological Institute. In 1991, CNI doctors performed a new surgery for epilepsy patients. Due to some complications after the surgery, Cindy had a stroke, and the left side of her body was paralyzed. She woke up to learn she had solved one problem, only to face a new and difficult challenge. The physical therapy that followed was rigorous, but her perseverance paid off. In 1999, Cindy completed the Ride The Rockies bicycle tour. This accomplishment inspired her to start writing a yet-unfinished book: “Brain Waves and Bicycles”.

For the past 6 years, Cindy had served as the chairman of the Board at CNI. The organization’s annual gala will be Nov. 17. Ben Vereen, a stroke survivor, will perform.

Philanthropic interests: Cindy has volunteered for four years with The Adoption Exchange

Favorite Clothing Stores: I shop out of necessity. I like Dillard's, Nordstrom and specialty shops. I am a very conservative shopper and prefer to spend on travel and charities.

What gives a woman/man style: The way a person looks and a good smile.

Interests: Issues affecting the disable, politics, health care and education. I'm also involved in my Rehabilitation Driving Project, sponsored by Spalding Community Foundation, to help survivors of stroke and brain injury return to driving and cycling.

Favorite Restaurants: The Fresh Fish Company

Saturdays are likely to find me: Attending my kids'sporting events or on some kind of family outing. I still clean my own house and try to fit that in on Saturdays.

Favorite Books: "Mutant Message Down Under." It is about a woman who went to Australia and traveled with the Aborigines. She was searching within herself trying to discover what is really important in her life. I also liked Colin Powell and Barbara Bush's autobiographies.

Pets: We have a pet guinea pig named "Lucky". My three kids have taught him to play the "Barbie" piano, use the remote control and drive the "Barbie" corvette. He is very talented.

Favorite Quote: The Serenity Prayer: "God Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference."

What three things do you always have in your refrigerator? Milk, Orange Juice, Diet Mountain Dew.

What's your favorite comfort food? Junk food? Chocolate

What was your most memorable meal? In October 1991, only 3 months after my surgery, I could not use my left hand at all and was learning to use my right hand. I went to dinner at The Fresh Fish Company and ordered crab legs and cracked them myself without any help. Then I knew I could do anything.

What food can't you live without? Pecan Pie

Where do you go in your home to feel completely relaxed and just think? My home office is my haven and I can relax in there.

If money and time were no object, what would you do? I would take a 6-month sabbatical on a remote island and truly appreciate nature and my family.

What was the most unusual thing you've ever decorated your home with? Fossils. Robert, my husband, is a geologist and has dug out some interesting fossils we have displayed in our family room.

When you move, what will your home tell its next owner, about you? It will say these people had kids who liked to sneak candy into their rooms. Also, I have saved every issue of "Newsweek" since 1977. I'm fascinated by history and, someday, I want to write a history book for high school students.

What one word describes you best? Reliable

What word would you like others to use to describe you? Energetic

If your life were a movie, what movie would it be? Who would play your part? "Up The Down Staircase." Before the stroke, Julia Roberts would play my part because I was a party girl in college. After the stroke, I would play myself.

Who is your hero? Why? My maternal grandfather. He was generous and supportive. We were the only grandkids and he taught me about unconditional love and never giving up.

What is your pet peeve? People who say they are going to do something and don't follow through.

Where can you be found at midnight? In my home office working on a project. Most of my volunteer work is done at night and I also enjoy working on our family various scrapbooks.

What was your first job? As with a lot of people in Bentonville, Ark. my first job was at Wal Mart.

What would you do if you were queen of the world? First of all, I would outlaw violence. Then, I would subsidize college education for everyone.

What word or expression do you use too much? That's awesome!

What is your greatest indulgence? To sit down with a cup of hot chocolate and watch movies. "The Wizard of Oz" is my all-time favorite movie.

Best gift you ever gave? I spent many hours putting together a family history video. I took both sides of the family and told their entire story in the video.

What is one thing nobody knows about you? I used to be a great at roller blading before I had a stroke. I am trying to figure out how to do it again.

Which social event is your favorite? The Colorado Neurological Institute Annual Gala.

If you could be something other than what you are, what would you be? A Broadway actress. I was on stage a lot in college and really enjoyed the experience.

What is a favorite childhood memory? Camping and riding horses with my grandfather.

Who is the most interesting celebrity you ever met? I was working as a Girl Scout volunteer at a Republican dinner and met Richard Nixon. He was very friendly and took time to sign autographs for the Girl Scouts.

What makes you laugh? My kids and our pet guinea pig.

What do you consider your proudest achievement? Of course, overcoming the effects of the stroke and having my three children.

What's the most recent book you've read? "Message Down Under" and "The O'Reilly Factor."

What is your greatest regret? I grew up in a small town and the general feeling was women were not college material. I wish I had realized all of the opportunities available sooner than I did.

What is your personal motto? You need to make life happen. If you think you can do it, you can.

What might your epitaph read? "She was always willing to give of herself to the causes that improved people's lives."

What is the best advice your Mom/Dad ever gave you? My mother always insisted in order to be successful, you must be able to read and know literature. We were always going to the library when I was a kid and that helped develop my love of learning.