Meet Lynda Gordon, founder of The Gordon Alliance and author of “Coogie, the Dumpster Cat”
Dr. Gordon left such an incredible legacy: can you tell us what exactly the Gordon Alliance is?
The Gordon Alliance is a company I started in 2020 to honor the life and legacy of my late husband, Dr. Michael Gordon. He was a renowned cardiologist and the founder and director of the Michael S. Gordon Center for Simulation and Innovation in Medical Education at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. He is best known for his invention of “Harvey”, the first cardiopulmonary patient simulator ever completed. Harvey realistically simulates all heart conditions by varying blood pressure, pulse, heart sounds, murmurs and respiration. The Gordon Alliance was intended to be a resource for anyone who wanted to know more about Harvey’s birth and the man who invented him at a time when technology was not mainstream. Today, it has become a place to pursue the philanthropy that Michael and I were so passionate about. thegordonalliance.com
Your new book series has such an interesting story, can you tell us about “Coogie the Dumpster Cat” and how he came to life?
About 2 months after Michael passed away, a valet in my building brought me a little black kitten that was found in the dumpster that morning. I took the kitten to my vet and my intention was to place him in foster care to find him a forever home. I asked for an approximate date of birth, and not knowing that Michael had died on July 7, the vet chose that day. Coincidence, maybe, but I adopted him myself and this kitten helped me in my grief. I named him Coogie, which was Michael’s nickname, and had been the name of his imaginary childhood friend. I had been telling crazy Coogie stories to my family for 3 years. When Covid-19 hit and we were all confined, Coogie and her furry sister Casey were my only companions. I’ve seen the world, and especially charitable giving, struggle to stay afloat. I knew I had to come up with a unique, long-term plan to not only raise money, but also friends, because volunteering was also down during the pandemic. So Coogie, the dumpster cat was born. Coogie will loosely mirror Michael’s life, but as a cat. The first book in the series is now on presale on Amazon and will be in bookstores on March 29. The second and third books are in the works, as is a kids game app, and more fun things to come as Coogie continues to have amazing adventures. All proceeds will go to charity through the Gordon Alliance. My hope is not just to raise money, but to have Coogie teach kids ages 3-8 a life lesson in every book.
It is wonderful that you have been able to continue to support Michael’s work with the University. How do you think Michael would feel about your new series of books and everything you’re doing today?
I’m sure Michael would find it odd to be portrayed as a cat, but he would applaud my creativity. I know he is proud of the work I do in medical school, especially at the Gordon Center. And I know he’s proud of his successor, Dr. Barry Issenberg. With innovative, cutting-edge programs and a brilliant, dedicated and versatile faculty and staff, the Center is reaching new heights. Harvey is now in its 9th generation, and the first responder training programs that Michael started have evolved to include an active shooter program. Today, paramedics, firefighters, EMS, U.S. Army Medical Detachment, and special operations teams as well as students, nurses, and doctors are trained in acute stroke, response to terrorism and active fire events to prepare them to save lives in the field. However, the Gordon Center is just one of the many crown jewels of the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami. The Miller School is one of the top institutions funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Florida, ranking #2 in NIH genetics funding, and recently climbed seven spots in the top 50 rankings. medical schools in the country. They are leading the way in stem cell research, advancing research and care at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, fighting cancer at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, making breakthroughs in Covid-19 care and vaccines, and providing care to our community through UHealth, the University of Miami Health System. I get involved as much as possible and was honored to be invited by Dean Henry Ford to serve on his advisory board. I am honored to be part of the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami and to carry on Michael’s legacy with the Gordon Center.
You obviously stay very busy, but I know that health or fitness is also important to you. How do you deal with all of this and stay healthy?
I try to eat whatever I want, but in moderation and avoid dieting altogether. That said: physical health is often directly affected by our mental health, so it’s important to have good thoughts and feelings. Helping others gives me peace of mind and a satisfaction that even a size 2 dress couldn’t. It’s not how we look that makes us special, it’s who we are inside that is our defining value. I think Covid-19 has made us all more aware of each other and the challenges we all face. Although separated, it brought us closer. It was beautiful to see so many people reaching out to help others.
“Coogie the Dumpster Cat” is available on Amazon.com or lyndasgordon.com
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