He’s a long way from his hometown of Cheshire, England, but the new executive director of Time for Lyme Inc., Peter Wild, has big plans for fundraising, research and increasing awareness of the tick-borne disease that holds thousands of Fairfield County residents in its uneasy grip.
The fresh shot of energy Wild brings to the table will bolster the momentum of the mostly volunteer driven non-profit organization, which, since its founding in 1998 by three Greenwich women, has raised millions of dollars for research.
With founders and longtime co-presidents Diane Blanchard and Debbie Siciliano at the helm, (a third founding member, Fran Herzog, stepped down in 2009), and a dedicated and determined board comprised of many of its original members, the volunteers have much to be proud of.
Yet, it is no easy battle to keep pace with the silent epidemic that prays disproportionately on children aged 5-14, and has dug in deep in the northeast.
With the ink still drying on his contract, Wild, who resides in Fairfield, began in his official capacity at the Stamford offices of Time for Lyme on Feb. 1. Rattling off a long to-do list, Wild’s ambition is evident.
At the top of his agenda are events critical to raising money for promising research initiatives. He explained that he would like to see the major gala held in alternating years become an annual event, and is also planning a 5K run-walk at Cove Island Park in Stamford, a golf outing, and a musical event.
Wild is nothing if not creative, with a set of wide and varied hobbies that compliment a unique career path. The avid sailor, beekeeper and runner, started his career working in advertising. At BBDO in London in the '70s, Wild excelled in account services and, later, he happily transferred to that agency’s Madison Avenue offices in New York.
In the '80s, when the traditional 15% commission model for agencies was dismantled, Wild rolled with the punches. As it was the early days of cable television, he started a programming company in which the advertisers owned the shows. He created “Celebrity Chefs” for former client, Campbell’s Soup, with Robert Morley as host. The program ran for several years and featured a range of celebrity chefs from Beverly Sills to Tony Randall.
Though neither Wild nor his family have Lyme Disease, he recalls the sad demise of his pet Corgi from a tick-borne disease, and the patient efforts of his now ex-wife who checked their dog’s coat with a fine-tooth comb every night searching for ticks. And though Time for Lyme’s mission is specifically related to the disease in humans, Wild noted that the Lyme Disease vaccine for dogs is 85% effective.
In humans, the accuracy of current testing is a meager 70%, and, with the all too common incidents of both false positives and false negatives, the rate of undiagnosed cases is high. And, because the bacteria can lodge in various parts of the body, symptoms vary widely and may include fatigue and searing headaches, as well as cognitive and neurological problems to name a few.
Wild pointed out that no one is untouched by the disease. “We all have a family member or friend with Lyme,” he said. “I like to cut my firewood and keep my bees,” he added, “So I am always on guard. If I even venture out to the garden bench, I tuck my trousers into my socks.” He explained another cruel twist, which is that even as one can be vigilant, “… pets bring the ticks inside. They hop off the dog and get onto you,” he said, the implication being that it could happen even the most careful among us.
Time for Lyme’s offices are located at 2001 W. Main St. in Stamford.
Tel. (203) 969-1333. For more information go to Time for Lyme. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org