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No. 2, 2014

DTBE Celebrates World KC Day!

DTBE Celebrates World KC Day!On March 28, 2014, the staff of DTBE gathered at CDC’s Corporate Square campus to bid farewell to Dr. Ken Castro. Dr. Castro served as the Director of DTBE for 20 years. In August 2013 he began serving a detail as Acting Director of the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. At the end of 2013, he vacated the position of DTBE Director to allow the Division to begin the process of filling the position, rather than waiting for his detail to end. To say farewell, the Division pitched in to create an appreciation event and to celebrate all things Ken Castro. All aspects of the event were made, bought, or contributed by CDC volunteers; no CDC funds were used.

The planning committee arranged a stellar line-up of speakers for the event. Dr. Jim Curran served as the Master of Ceremonies. The guest speakers included Dr. Phil LoBue; Dr. Lee Reichman (he was unable to attend; Dr. Wanda Walton presented his remarks instead); Dr. Mario Raviglione (via prerecorded video); and Dr. Jono Mermin. Dr. Wanda Walton presented a slide show that she and Cheryl Tryon had developed from photos that current and former colleagues had sent in. Much like at a celebrity “roast,” Dr. Castro was gently ribbed and reminded about numerous events and issues he’d had the privilege of dealing with over the years in his time as DTBE Director.

Dr. Mario Raviglione’s presentation consisted of a mock interview he conducted with Dr. Castro, videotaped at WHO headquarters in Geneva. It was actually Dr. Raviglione speaking in a warm and friendly manner to a large doll propped up in a chair and wearing a Ken Castro face mask. With a twinkle in his eyes, Dr. Raviglione spoke to Dr. Castro’s doppelgänger about their experiences together in international TB control over the years.

DTBE Celebrates World KC Day!Since the theme was World KC Day, the event planners were able to highlight multiple  facets of Dr. Castro’s character, such as his Puerto Rican heritage; his international travels and friendships; and last but not least, his on-again, off-again relationship with facial hair, owing to a particular Commissioned Corps change in regulation about grooming standards (i.e., beards were out). The decorations featured globe-like lanterns and grass-skirted tables, the food was island-themed, and guests were encouraged to wear tropical shirts. As a nod to the facial hair motif, there was a tray of chocolate mustaches to wear, or eat, or both.

DTBE Celebrates World KC Day!At one point in the festivities, in the midst of the planned agenda, a small group of people burst into the room and charged to the front, where they proceeded to serenade Dr. Castro. The group sang parodies of traditional Puerto Rican songs that they rewrote for Ken. For the last one, the whole gathered crowd was invited to sing along.

Dr. Eugene McCray presided over the official presentation of gifts to Dr. Castro. These included an engraved plaque and a handsome crystal globe trophy that represented his influence in global TB control.

There were other gifts as well. Dr. Andy Vernon presented him with a Ken Castro bobble-head doll, which came complete with Commissioned Corps uniform, eye glasses, and of course, facial hair. On behalf of the Field Services and Evaluation Branch (FSEB), Dr. Terry Chorba presented him with a medal originally made for the International Congress on Tuberculosis held in 1908 in Washington, DC. The medal, one of only a few that were made, had been commissioned by President Theodore Roosevelt as president of the International Congress. It was designed by Victor D. Brenner, who later sculpted the Lincoln penny. The medal depicts the allegorical female figure Lumen (Light), symbolic of science, standing with both arms raised. In one hand she is holding a winged hour-glass of time, and she is trampling underfoot the dragon of the white death. (It will appear as the featured artwork on the cover of Emerging Infectious Diseases next March to coincide with World TB Day.)

The event was well-attended. We were happy to see Dr. Castro’s wife Irene, daughters Ivonne, Laura, and Sara, son-in-law Sergio, and three grandchildren at the event. Many current and former DTBE staff showed up to wish Dr. Castro farewell and good luck. And arrangements were made so that field staff could participate remotely.

We think Dr. Castro enjoyed himself and appreciated the planning, the effort, and the high esteem that were reflected in this World KC Day event.

Reported by Ann Lanner
Div of TB Elimination

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