A few weeks ago, we welcomed back Jeff Keefer to VIVID Gallery, here in The Shops at Sea Pines Center. Jeff’s able team of volunteers kept the gallery humming during Jeff’s brief trip to Philadelphia. The reason volunteers are key to VIVID Gallery is that Jeff donates 100% of the proceeds from the sale of his art photography there to the Michael J. Fox Foundation to help find a cure for Parkinson’s Disease. Volunteers assure that every dollar goes to the cause.

Morbi vitae purus dictum, ultrices tellus in, gravida lectus.

You’ve likely heard the expression, “It’s not brain surgery?” Well, the reason for Jeff’s trip to Philadelphia was indeed brain surgery. Jeff went there to see specialists for Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), a measure that’s been in use for several years, proving helpful to relieve and reduce some of the symptoms that come with Parkinson’s, such as tremor and dyskinesis or involuntary movements.

In addition to his own surgical treatment, Jeff stepped forward into the front lines of work to help relieve the suffering of millions of others.

For Millions of Others

In addition to his own surgical treatment, Jeff volunteered to serve as a test subject for one of the brain-computer interface devices being developed now. When fully evaluated and deployed, brain-computer interface brings the promise of relieving the isolation of people who are paralyzed, offering millions the possibility to operate computers with just their thoughts. The importance is such that Jeff’s experiment was profiled in the Wall Street Journal.

The brain-computer interface device, placed on Jeff’s brain for 25 minutes while he was undergoing the DBS procedure – mildly sedated yet fully awake – had 10,240 contact points with Jeff’s brain, some of them half the size of a human hair. Jeff was asked to make specific movements with his hand while it was gloved with motion-capture sensors. Researchers recorded the areas of the brain that activated each movement.

Then Jeff was asked just to think of each movement, and the resulting impulses were used to “train” the device that will one day enable people to operate computers with their thoughts, relieving the isolation that adds suffering to the experience of people who have lost the ability to control the devices in conventional ways.

Extraordinary and Everyday

Which calls for more courage – stepping into the front lines of research, or getting up every day to practice your art, engage with the world, and care for your family and loved ones? Jeff Keefer answers in both ways, overcoming burdens and drawbacks both seen and unseen. Everyday examples run steadily in between Jeff’s bursts of conspicuous service, serving as board member and former chair of the Michael J. Fox Foundation, originating our Fun With The Fox event each fall here in The Shops at Sea Pines Center, or even offering himself for brain research that will help millions of others.

More Pioneer than Patient

Soon after receiving his own Parkinson’s diagnosis, Jeff decided to be a pioneer and not just a patient. He realized that the path of dealing with his own case called him to clear the path for others, too. “If not you, then who?” Jeff says.

In this spirit, Jeff Keefer carries on a long, wide tradition of service that is shared among the citizens of Sea Pines. Fresh on our minds is the sight of hundreds of volunteers who devote their days to volunteering at the RBC Heritage. Folks who are well placed to take it easy, choose instead to work hard for making the experience a pleasure for others. It’s deep in the DNA of Sea Pines. Among The Shops at Sea Pines Center, we are grateful to welcome generous hearts such as these every day.