FASLink We Are No Longer Alone

Red Shoes Rock honors the FASD pioneers –
Bruce Richie – Thank you!

Bruce-Ritchie

We are honored to share Bruce’s story.

Red Shoes Rock Thanks YOU!

Motorola-International-3200
Two years before the Motorola International 3200 launched Bruce had begun a database of FASD information. Mind you, the mobile device above was the first digital hand-size mobile telephone. It took 5 hours to charge, and offered 8 hours standby and 1 hour talk time.

We are grateful to the innovation, engineering, and connectivity our community gained through the mind and heart of Bruce Richie. Bruce was one of the founding directors of the Fetal Alcohol Support Network in Hamilton, ON in 1990. People came from as far as 150 miles for the monthly meetings. They eventually started their own local groups.
During this time, he spent thousands of hours archiving every bit of FASD information he could glean from around the world, and he built it into a free-form database. THAT WAS BEFORE INTERNET and TWO YEARS BEFORE THE PHONE ABOVE ENTERED THE MARKET!

When the Internet became available in 1995, Bruce built the FASN website for all the information. Val Surbey, another parent, and advocate, convinced CCSA (Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse) to sponsor an online discussion forum/listserve. They did so believing it would be primarily used by professionals and academia. Instead, it rapidly became the communications network for a bunch of very dedicated and frustrated parents around the world.

In 1998, we were discussing a possible class action lawsuit against the beverage alcohol industry. Since CCAS is funded heavily by the booze industry, all of a sudden FASlink’s funding was cut off, and they tried to bury it.

Bruce shares, “Like an idiot, I figured it would not be difficult to find alternate funding, and I offered to take it over and finance it until a new sponsor could be found.”

CCSA eventually allowed Bruce to take over Faslink. They provided the mailing list, and since the software was free public domain software, he had to get his own copy. So, in April 1999, Bruce received the mailing list, bought two servers, installed the software and went only.

One server was used for the listserve, and the other was used for the website. As I was now living in Sarnia, ON, with the agreement of the FASN members and Faslink members, the site was renamed as Faslink Fetal Alcohol Disorders Society. I have covered about 80%+ of the costs personally since then along with the help of a small group of members, including Peggy Seo Oba. FASlink never instituted a member fee. The vulnerability of the members desperate for connections and resources often had limited funds. Bruce states, “All of us benefited from each other. I may have put in the finances and the thousands of hours, but all the thousands of people in our FASlink community of caregivers, parents, and professionals helped me raise my son, David, into a fine 28-year-old. Bruce is a single adoptive father, his son was diagnosed with FASD as an infant.

The first FAS Day was September 9, 1999, and the lines of text between countries buzzed with ideas and sharing. Together, we pulled off 9.9.99 starting in New Zealand at 9:09 am with a Bell Concordance, and Bells rang out around the world for the next 24 hours. Ringing out warning. Announcing we were stepping out together to change the face of FASD for the future.

The connections between Pioneers Bonnie Buxton, and Bruce Philcox, and Teresa Kellerman, the development of FASDay and FASworld and the other parents around the world happened because a man dared to step out to make FASLink – this first event happen. – this first event happen.

FASlink serves more than 400,000 people annually through this website and the Discussion Forum. The FASlink Archives provide access to more than 130,000 documents on FASD related issues. Bruce Red Shoes Rock thanks you!

FASlinkCDcase

The CD to the right is available for $20 it contains a wealth of information from the FASlink files. Funds go to continuing this critical work.

In 2007, Bruce led the Great FASD Horseback Ride and Trek Across Canada, from Halifax to Victoria – 4 months under canvas. His son, David joined him for the Sarnia to Victoria part. The lead rider from Halifax to Toronto was Steve Thomas, and the event co-ordinator from Halifax to Ottawa was Claudia Julien. We also thank all these other committed pioneers.

141213 FASD Surbey .jpg

TOMORROW WE MEET VAL SURBEY. The dynamo behind the concept of FASLink – a discussion group that allowed persons isolated parents and caregivers connect to help build strategies in living, loving and laughing in the FASlane of FASD.

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