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February 14, 2014

Thunderbolts assist Heroes of Silent Angels

Staff Sgt. Phoeteama Neal, 56th Communication Squadron information assurance technician, hangs banners Feb. 7 for the Heroes of Silent Angels tournament in Phoenix. The event is run by the Society for Creative Anachronisms to raise money for the cure of Rett Syndrome, a form of autism.

When most people think of medieval times, knights, and squires, it doesn’t usually also bring modern medical disorders to mind. But the members of the Society for Creative Anachronisms are striving to do just that.

Airmen from Luke Air Force Base came out last weekend to assist setting up for the Heroes of the Silent Angels event held in Phoenix.

“The SCA is a historical medieval society re-enacting the chivalrous aspects of that society in modern times,” said Solomon Galyon, squire in the central Phoenix chapter of the SCA, known as the Barony of Atenveldt. “The Heroes of Silent Angels is a charity tournament to fund the International Rett Syndrome Foundation.”

Rett Syndrome is a devastating genetic mutation that primarily affects girls. Most girls affected by it have a maximum life expectancy of 25 years. Features of the syndrome include inability to speak, seizures, uncontrollable body movements and inability to walk without assistance. Most of the girls affected with Rett Syndrome, however, are cognitively intact.

The Airmen were introduced to someone afflicted with this disorder in order for them see exactly who their participation is going to help. Dierdre Galyon, 13, is Solomon’s daughter.

“Events like this one, and the people who volunteer to help out, give the families who live with this syndrome hope for a cure,” said Maj. Andrew Hoeffler, 56th Medical Operations Squadron family nurse practitioner and squire in the SCA. “And a cure is actually within sight. It is probable that there will be a cure available within the next couple of years due to advances in gene therapy. As this event grows, it becomes more and more daunting a task to run. Without these Airmen’s help, it would have been very difficult for us to have the success we did.”

Solomon Galyon, a member of the Society for Creative Anachronisms, introduces his daughter Dierdre, 13, to Luke Air Force Base Airmen who helped set up the Heroes of Silent Angels event. Dierdre is afflicted with Rett Syndrome, a form of autism that renders those who have it unable to speak, often unable to walk or care for themselves, and can cause seizures.

Airmen assisted with setup of pavilions, tents and stalls.

“It’s a lot of work to get the initial setup done,” Galyon said. “Normally, the society does this for itself. Their help cut the time it takes to set up the event area by one third. It was a really big boon to have people out to help.

“I do this game for fun, but working for a cure for my daughter’s condition has become a huge aspect of my life,” Galyon said. “This tournament is really a big deal for me and my family. The Air Force guys coming out and being willing to help is really touching. I appreciate it in ways I can’t express.”

This year’s event helped raise more than $9,000 to help with the research.

“As much as we in the SCA enjoy dressing up in funny clothes and doing the activities we do, the feeling we get from helping one of our own, as well as countless other families, can’t be quantified,” Hoeffler said. “The dedicated work of the volunteers from the 56th FW was inspiring, and they have my respect and gratitude for their efforts.”
 

Luke Air Force Base Airmen raise a tent during the event.

 

Aerin Rosenberg, Knight of Barony of Atenveldt, practices with Maj. Andrew Hoeffler, 56th Medical Operations Squadron family nurse practitioner and squire of Atenveldt, during the Heroes for Silent Angels event setup Feb. 7 in Phoenix. Rosenberg and Hoeffler are both part of the Society for Creative Anachronisms, helping raise funds for Rett Syndrome research.




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