It was just all of the sudden waking up and just being this new person. And I don't want that to ever happen to anybody again. —Dr. Cindy LaRoe
READ CINDY'S STORY

Dr. Cindy LaRoe's Story

Cindy LaRoe believes everything happens for a reason, even the traumatic brain injury she sustained in a cycling accident in 2011. The crash left her with lasting but invisible scars, including memory loss, difficulty concentrating, and her eyes playing tricks on her. The brain injury ended her career as a Lake County (Fla.) internist, and her days of racing as a championship-caliber cyclist were over.

But out of that devastating accident came inspiration that fused Cindy's passion as a doctor with her talents as a painter. Cindy and her husband, Ken LaRoe, founder and chairman of Orlando-based First GREEN Bank and CEO of First GREEN Bancorp holding company, created the Art of Medicine as a philanthropy that supports brain injury research and treatment. In its inaugural black-tie gala in 2015, AoM raised $168,000, with some of the funds raised through auctions of paintings by Orlando-area physicians, including Cindy.

How Cindy entered the medical profession complements her theory of everything happening for a reason. After the LaRoes' firstborn, Zachary, was diagnosed with cri du chat syndrome, a chromosomal abnormality that causes developmental disabilities and other impairments, Cindy sought to better understand her son's condition. So she left her job as a civil draftsperson for the phone company in the couple's hometown of Eustis, Fla., and entered the University of Florida as a pre-med student.

“The thing that initially got me wanting to go to med school was genetics. I wanted to learn more about genetics, and learn why Zac,” she says, her voice trailing off, “I wanted answers.”

Cindy went on to complete her medical degree at the University of South Florida in 1997. She was 40 years old. Four years of hospital residency followed at UF at Shands in Gainesville, followed by Cindy returning to Eustis to practice internal medicine. For 10 years she and Ken had juggled marriage, childcare, college education and careers, much of the time while living apart, but through it all they kept up fitness regimens that included running and cycling.

Back home, Cindy began to compete in distance running races, winning several en route to a top 5 ranking in her age group in Florida. In 2008, representing Team USA, she finished 11th in the Rimini ITU Duathlon (running-cycling) World Championships (50-54, female) in Italy. But a nagging injury forced her to give up running. It did not, however, end her desire to compete — and win.

So Cindy switched to competitive cycling and immediately made her presence felt. In 2009, she set the all-time 40k cycling state time trial record in the female 50-54 age group. In 2010, her first full year of racing, she was the senior world champion in hill climb criterion and time trial. That same year, Cindy won the Florida State Road Race Championship and the Florida State Time Trial Championship.

She was prepared to defend her records and compete in the US Cycling Federation Age Group National when, on Feb. 19, 2011, she crashed in a local circuit race. She sustained three broken ribs, a broken elbow, a broken clavicle and a traumatic brain injury.

While recovering from the accident, Cindy began painting with acrylics on canvas. Painting helped her focus and it eliminated the pressure in her head. She paints single objects, like a fish, racehorse, or cyclist, with bold colors. Several of her artworks hang in First GREEN Bank's Mount Dora branch. One of her paintings sold for $2,500 at the 2015 Art of Medicine gala.

Although Cindy accepts she will never practice medicine again, she is committed to helping people heal through Art of Medicine.


Cynthia L. (Adler) LaRoe

Birthdate: Oct. 8, 1957
Birthplace: Eustis, Fla.
Residence: Eustis
Married: Ken LaRoe (high school sweetheart), 1981
Children: Zachary (’87) and Mackenzie (’88)

Education: University of Florida, BS zoology, 1992; University of South Florida College of Medicine, MD, 1997 Medical Career: Completed surgical internship at VA Hospital in Gainesville and internal medicine residency at UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville, 2001; practiced IM in Eustis until 2011

Athletic Highlights: Completed 2005 Boston Marathon; finished 11th in 2008 Rimini ITU Duathlon (running-cycling) World Championships (50-54, female); 2009, set 40k cycling state time trial record (50-54, female); 2010, won Florida State Road Race Championship (masters, female); holds numerous time records and won several cycling competitions (masters age group)

Art of Medicine Foundation: Created in 2015 by Cindy and Ken, founder of Orlando-based First GREEN Bank and chairman of First Green Bancorp. AoM, through an annual black-tie gala, raises money to support brain injury research and treatment in partnership with University of Florida’s Trauma, Concussion, and Sports Neurology Program.

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Artist Submissions

— Call for Visual Art Submissions —

The Art of Medicine Foundation invites healthcare professionals and brain injury survivors from across the county to submit their visual artworks for consideration in the Art of Medicine Gala. The event takes place October 20, 2017, at the Orlando Museum of Art.


The gala is in honor of Dr. Cindy LaRoe, survivor of a traumatic brain injury that left her unable to continue practicing internal medicine. Dr. LaRoe found painting therapeutic during her recovery, and, six years after her injury she continues to paint. Her recovery and artworks inspired her husband, Ken LaRoe, the founder of Orlando-based First GREEN Bank, to create the Art of Medicine Foundation and Gala.

The AoM board will select from healthcare professionals and brain injury survivors’ submissions, a collection of art to showcase and auction off during the gala. Proceeds from the event will benefit the University of Florida Trauma, Concussion, and Sports Neurology Program (UF TRACS).

Selected pieces will be considered a donation on behalf of the artist, and will be auctioned off for charity at the 2017 Art of Medicine Gala. Each artist's name, practice and artwork title will be displayed next to their work at the event. Drawing, painting, printmaking, ceramics, pottery and sculpture are all acceptable art forms.

Artists selected to have their artwork included in the gala will receive two complimentary tickets to the event, which includes fine organic cuisine, wine and beer, and entertainment.

The deadline for submissions is February 28, 2017. Click on the Artist Submission button in this section.

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The Art of Medicine Foundation, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Contributions are deductible to the extent allowed by law. Please consult your tax advisor.


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