One 4 Another

Will You Help These Kids Make Their Bodies Work? [Podcast Episode #100]

Imagine you had a child who was unable to walk. Born with deformed feet and ankles, it is painful for her to stand, let alone run and play with the other kids her age. Her crooked legs hold her back from experiencing the life you'd want for her.

How far would you go to make her body work properly? 

Hopefully this is a situation you never have to face personally, but it's the reality for many children around the world. Defects that would be corrected at birth for children here in the western world are left untouched, often leaving these children as outcasts with a bleak future.

Amazingly, it's so easy to fix the problem. Here's how you can help give these children a body that works...

Episode Resources:

Florence

Will You Help These Kids Make Their Bodies Work? [Full Text]

Dave: Hey, thanks so much for joining me in this episode of the Make Your Body Work podcast. As you know, this show is all about helping you live a healthier and happier life. Today, it is a big one. I am super, super excited, because today, believe it or not, today is the 100th episode of the Make Your Body Work podcast.

Big cheers, thanks for tuning in. Thanks for listening. Some of you have listened to every single episode. I know that to be true because you'll email me and tell me that you've listened to every single episode. Thanks for sticking with me, and thanks for getting to know each other. My favorite part of this show really is connecting with you, the listeners. I love hearing your questions. I love hearing about the results, the actions that you're taking in your life. Really that's what motivates me to keep on going. That's the whole reason why we're here on number 100 today.

When I started this podcast, I don't know, I guess it's been about three, almost three years ago, my goal was to do five episodes. Honestly, the only reason I started this was because just for kicks. I was a big podcast listener myself, and thought, "You know, I can do that. That sounds really fun." Had the intention of creating five episodes that address some of the key questions that I get asked all the time, and then just using those to share with people when I got asked that question in the future.

Again, it goes back to you. Thank you for tuning in and for writing to me and telling me about how you appreciate the guests that come on here, you appreciate the questions that are being answered. Again, that you're taking action and applying this stuff in your life. That's why we're here, that's why we're at number 100. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I love you. I'm just so excited that we've made it this far. I'm excited for the next 100 episodes, so it's going to be awesome.

Today you heard at the start of this episode that we're talking about kids, and specifically kids who can't walk. You might think, "Well, why are we talking about that?" Usually, we focus on exercise, we talk about diet, we talk about stress, we talk about sleep, we talk about all these things that are focused on making your body work, and making my body work. What about kids who are born with a physical disadvantage that's preventing their bodies from working?

I know this is a bit of a shift, but it's something that's really near and dear to my heart because a really good friend of mine has started a charity a number of years ago that is based in East Africa and Uganda. He's working with kids whose bodies aren't working.

You might think, "There's kids everywhere whose bodies aren't working." These kids in particular, their bodies aren't working, and they're not working because of a birth defect that they have that is so easily treatable.

You know, I asked the question, "What would you do if your child couldn't walk? How far would you go?" I think anyone who has kids or has kids in their lives, even if they're not their own children, would say, "I love these kids. I would do anything to enable them to walk." That's what my friend Glenn is doing. He's enabling kids to walk.

You're going to be amazed when you hear him talk about what the process is, the success stories, and then how easy it is to completely change these children's lives. That's all I'm going to say for right now. I'm excited for you to learn more about his organization called One For Another. Let's begin. I'd like to introduce to you Glenn Pascoe.

Meet Glenn Pascoe

Dave: Hey, Glenn. Thanks so much for joining us on the show today.

Glenn: Great to be with you, Dave.

Dave: We were kind of laughing before we started recording here because it seems like everything that could possibly prevent this interview from happening has all happened.

Glenn: It's happening at the moment, yes, currently.

Dave: I can hear it. Probably the listeners can as well. First of all, what time is it over in Uganda right now?

Glenn: Right now, it's 6:15 p.m. Just after supper, the supper time.

Dave: We are literally on other sides of the world, because it's 8:00 a.m. where I am right now on the west coast of Canada. What's the weather like? What's the situation you're in right now?

Glenn: The situation at the moment is power's out, completely black, dark. Thunder is imminent and close, raining, pouring rain. At any moment, I would expect the internet to be completely finished. If we can get this, it'll be a miracle.

Dave: On top of that, you were telling me that your stomach is not feeling great either.

Glenn: On top of that, I entertained a gentleman who offered me some watermelon juice this afternoon, which seemed perfectly safe enough. Now I'm more sick to my stomach. There you have it. Otherwise, in good spirits.

Dave: Glenn, I appreciate you trying to battle through all that to be with us.

Glenn: I'm not going to miss this interview, Dave, if I can help it.

Dave: We appreciate it. Just a quick little back story I guess, for the listeners, you and I, we probably met, I don't know, maybe six or seven years ago through a church that we used to go to in Ontario. As we got to know each other, you just told me quite an amazing story about how One For Another came about. I was wondering if you could tell the audience?

How Did One4Another Come to Be?

Glenn: Yeah, for sure. I had always had something that kind of got in my system regarding Africa back in my university days, but went back to Uganda, East Africa, in 2011 just to see if that spark was there. Sure enough, it still was after a number of years being away. I proceeded to sort of be a volunteer, and came back for a three-month stint in 2012. Volunteering different projects, different things…

What really caught my attention, and what I went home with was the desire to help kids in Uganda, children with surgical needs. The way that came about was a number, probably three or four parents, had brought their children to me during that stint of volunteering. Basically said, "Can you help me with my child's condition?"

It was a matter of trial and error, figuring out how health system works in Uganda, figuring out how private system compares with the public, realizing that parents do not have anywhere close to the funds available to them to pay for private surgeries, and the public system is all but ineffective. Even if you were to get the proper surgery through the public health system, they would then be charging for the consultation fee, the blood work.

They wouldn't have oxygen ready for the surgery date. They wouldn't have this and that, and it would cause an obstacle to be placed in the way. Went home thinking that for two or three or four, sometimes seven, $800, depending on what the problem is, a child's life and the trajectory of their life could really be shifted and sort of the suffering that would come from that condition could be really alleviated for what seemed to me like a very small price to pay. That was the start of it. It's been quite a ride ever since. That's four years ago now since we've begun.

One tiny act of kindness can start a chain reaction that makes a huge difference in this world!

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What Are These Kids Dealing With?

Dave: Can you tell us a little bit about what types of conditions you typically see there?

Glenn: Yeah. The most common condition that we're treating at the moment is club foot, which is a birth defect. It's meant to be treated and corrected when a child is first born, so in the first six months, first year of life. If it's treated as babies, as infants, then it's nonsurgical correction, and a child grows up not even knowing they were born with this.

Our work, unfortunately, is largely treating older children with club feet because they didn't receive the treatment as babies, which then becomes a surgical correction. That is our most common.

Then we have fractures, so kids who are in large part hit by cars, road accidents, run over by trucks. Being on the road is probably the most dangerous place to be in Uganda, especially at night. A lot of fractures and traumas, like crushed feet and hands and whatnot.

Then following that is bone infections. It's called osteomyelitis. It's an infection of the bone. Once it gets entrenched, it becomes a surgical condition, very difficult to treat, takes a long time to eradicate. That's a really painful condition to live with. Those are the top three, and then we have a whole variety of other surgeries that we get kids help for.

How Common is Club Foot?

Dave: I remember when we first started talking about One For Another way back years ago, and you were telling me about club foot and how it's so prevalent over there. I remember you showing me some pictures of these kids, and for the listeners I'll put some in the blog post here, or in the resources section of this podcast episode.

If you go to MakeYourBodyWork.com/100 you can see some images of these kids with club feet. Glenn, I remember you telling me about this and saying that it happens to kids in Canada, in the US, in the developed world. They're both with it just a regularly, but because our children have access to health care, they get it fixed right away.

I remember just thinking that's something ... I would never even think of club foot, because you never see any adults in Canada with club foot.

Glenn: It'd be very rare, I would think, to see anybody in Canada whose older walking around with a club foot. Here, it's not uncommon. If you went to a village here today, anywhere outside of Jinja or even in town, there's a pretty good chance that at some point during the day you might run into an older child with a club foot. The prevalence is the same in Canada or the US or Europe as well as in Uganda, which is roughly one in 1,000. One in 1,000 kids that is born has this birth defect.

How Does Club Foot Affect the Lives of These Children?

Dave: Can you tell us what would the life of a child be who is born with club foot and doesn't get it fixed? How does that limit their ability?

Glenn: Yeah. This has become one of my burdens with this work, is to get help for these kids, because they really suffer. They suffer physically, because it's painful to walk. They can walk on what is essentially the top of the foot, or right up on the top portion of the ankle joint. They can, but they can't walk for long distances.

They can't go very far without really experiencing a lot of pain. With that comes abscesses that have their own complications that they can't get around very fast. If they have a club foot, the chances are they're not going to school because the school is a bit too far to walk to.

Not to mention that they become the lowest priority of the children in the family. In Uganda, the average woman gives birth or has six children, gives birth to more. If the child's got a birth defect or something that's out of the ordinary in terms of health condition, they become sort of the lowest priority, certainly in terms of school, but just in terms of attention and general wellbeing.

The stigma that comes with having a defect or a birth defect or a disability is pretty significant. What these kids go through in terms of being ostracized, being kept inside the house for prolonged periods, being shunned by their, in particular unfortunately, their fathers.

I don't know how many fathers now have told us directly, with no shame, that this child could not be his because he wouldn't have offspring with a birth defect. We're dealing with treatment of the child that really goes to the heart and soul and psyche of a little person. I want to sort of address that.

I want to make sure that they are loved and cared for, that they know that there's absolutely no difference between them and anybody else in terms of their worth and dignity, and that they should have every opportunity that every other kid has. That goes part and parcel with treating the physical condition.

Play is so important to children. Giving them a body that can run and play is a life-changing gift!

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What Happens When the Braces Come Off?

Dave: You know, when you and I were doing a little bit of online marketing stuff for One For Another, again this was four, five, six years ago, and I remember when you sent over all the pictures and I saw all these kids with club feet, my instant thought was, "I wonder if they get made fun of like a kid in Canada or the United States or wherever else if they went to school or tried to ... " I picture them trying to play soccer, trying to do stuff. Do you see that socially?

Glenn: Yeah.

Dave: What's their friendship level like?

Glenn: Definitely. It varies, just like it would at home, and any circumstance. Generally speaking, the Ugandan communities will tell me that a child with club foot is in for a real battle in his or her life in terms of the social sort of stigma and ostracization that comes from it.

I remember when one boy in particular, we had his foot corrected, and he told us through his mom that he was now so happy to be able to go out into the village and show off his foot and make sure that everybody could see that now his foot was straight, that it was straight, and he was going to be able to play soccer, was going to be able to kick a ball, and he's going to be able to ride a bike. Those were the things that he highlighted as the things that would make him like any other child.

I've seen it several times, or kind of many times now in the clinic, where once the braces or the casts come off, there's kind of a process of how it works, once the surgery's done, the casts come off, and they go into braces, the child sort of reconfigures his or her identity in a way to look down and now see the feet being straight as opposed to being curved and bent inwards.

That is a moment where a light bulb goes off, something happens within the heart and soul of the child, that they well up and know that they are just like everybody else.

In fact, we have a boy in the clinic right now, and he's just gone into braces. He is just glowing, going around showing everybody his feet. He's just learning to walk on them. He still needs crutches and stuff, but he's got a permanent grin showing people his feet.

He's already making the motion of pretending he's kicking a soccer ball. It's hard to put into words. When you see it with your own eyes, and kind of feel the energy of the child and the parent ... it can be pretty deep.

Dave: Again for the listeners, you're right Glenn, it's hard to understand it just through words. For anyone who's listening to this podcast, again if you go to MakeYourBodyWork.com/100 I'll put some pictures, some before and after pictures, because what you just described, Glenn, it comes through in images so well.

A picture of a child with these curled feet that just looks so painful for them to imagine them walking on it. Then your after pictures when their legs and their feet look just like any other kid, the smile on those kids' faces always just huge.

Glenn: I think that is my favorite moment in the work so far, is that moment when the child sees that he or her has got straight feet. Everybody's happy for the situation. When they go back to their villages, I remember one boy, taking him back to his village, and he was waving out of the car door from way before getting to his house at neighboring villages.

As we got closer and closer, he was waving out the window, smiling, smiling. When he got out of the car, he was just pointing to his feet. It's something that I think is a mission for us. Why, in this day and age… When it's possible to treat a disability, when it's possible to fix a disability, why would a child have to live with it? This has become our calling, or one of our callings.

What Do the Kids' Lives Look Like After Treatment?

Dave: You know Glenn, I was wondering if you could tell us about a child or an instance of working with a child that has come sort of full circle. You've been at this for a number of years now, can you think of any children that had their club foot correction happen a number of years ago and that you have gone on to see them recently, like several years later, or heard from them recently? If you could tell us where did their life end up over a course of two, three, four years.

Glenn: That's a great question. I just was reacquainted with a mom of one of our very first kids, a boy with club foot, [inaudible 00:17:51 (Alifa)]. His mom came by the clinic two days ago, and brought a huge bag of mangoes. I recognized her from, it was 2013, so our organization kind of got in full swing up and running beginning of 2013.

I remembered her face, and I thought, "Oh, I wonder what she's doing here." Anyway, she just came by to deliver the gift, the mangoes, because three, four years later, [inaudible 00:18:21 (Alifa)]'s doing great.

I was so fascinated to ask how is the foot, is it still very straight. She's just smiling, she says, "It's so straight." I said, "Is he able to walk fine without pain?" "He walks without pain." "What about playing football?" "He plays football, and he goes to school."

One of my main concerns with this work is making sure that whatever interventions we do have positive, lasting effects so that there's no recurrences, which can happen with club feet if the child stops wearing the brace before they should, there's a number of things that can cause a recurrence.

To hear that one of our earliest kids is doing great with no recurrence makes me believe that our system is working and that that's going to be true for all of the kids that we're working on now today as well.

Not Every Parent Can Care for Their Own Children

Dave: That's so cool. For those of us who are removed from the situation, I've never met any of these children, and most of the people that are listening to this podcast won't have either, I think it's helpful to imagine if you have kids yourself to think about what if your child was born with a club foot and you didn't have the means to have that fixed, or didn't have the benefit of public health care that we get that fixed.

What would that mean for your child's life, or a child who you're familiar with? When you tell that story about talking to the mother and how excited she is, I think we can all put ourselves in that mindset and think, "That is how I would feel about my own child, or my niece or nephew." Whoever it is.

Glenn: Exactly. Many parents will often say, "I never thought we were going to be able to get this treatment. Didn't think this day would come." Especially if the kid is ten years old, or heaven forbid 15, 16, 17 years old. By that point, you've accepted that this is your lot in life, right?

When we're able to do that, the parents who are engaged and involved, having a healthy, good relations with their kids are just totally overjoyed, and will do anything to make sure that the child comes to the appointments on time, doesn't miss, make sure they don't soil their casts, make sure they wear the braces properly, et cetera.

Like any society, there's fantastic parents and then there's parents who maybe aren't able to be good parents. Some parents aren't able to really provide the support that they need during the course of all their appointments for all kinds of reasons.

There's huge economic stresses, and other health care needs of other children. There's life and death is sort of an everyday problem. Sometimes we have to get other guardians or chairmen or local pastors or an aunt or uncle to be the one to attend the appointments with the child, and be there in the clinic with them and so on. Regardless, whoever it is, whether it's the parent or the guardian, they're just overjoyed.

To not be able to provide critical health care for your child, just because you can't afford it, is an excruciating burden to bear. It's not hard to understand why. If you see your child in pain, the first thing you want to do is relieve it. We go to the ends of the earth to do that. In many ways, I feel like we're sort of getting the backs of these parents.

Come behind them and helping provide what they themselves long for, and they themselves have gone to extraordinary measures in most cases to pay for treatment by selling off cows, selling off land, and becoming economically really strapped in order to treat the child, but just haven't had enough money. We want to get their backs, and be there for them. They shouldn't have to sell their land to make this happen.

It's a parent's job to raise and care for their own child. It's our job, as humans, to help those who can't afford to do so.

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Dave: When you and I first started talking about doing this podcast, we were saying how it's such a good fit. The podcast is called Make Your Body Work, and every single episode, so this is the 100th episode, I've had 99 episodes that are focused on us as North Americans, or us as westerners making our bodies work in a very high-level capacity, like taking exercise to the next degree, nutrition, all these things.

When I hear you speak, it's so humbling because these kids, their body isn't working on the most basic level. They actually have a physical deformity that prevents their body from working. It's something like you said that's so easy to fix.

Glenn: Exactly, especially as young babies and children, young children. The actual cost of treating a baby with club foot is not much more than 200, $250. For me, that's a no-brainer. We will treat any child that comes to us with a club foot. Of course, as they get older then the cost kind of starts doubling and multiplying.

Dave: As I was just preparing for this podcast, I was on Facebook and some friends of mine, their names are Ben and Sarah, they had a son, his name's Jack, who was born with a club foot here in Canada. He's now, I don't know, maybe 12 or 13 years old, but I was watching a video actually. He's an all-star baseball player. He travels around and competes at a very high level.

Glenn: Oh, wow.

Dave: I never even thought about the fact that he had a club foot, but in preparing for this I was like, "I remember that when he was a baby and it got fixed. Look at where he is now." I just thought-

Glenn: Awesome.

Dave: That can be the story of hundreds of kids who you are working with.

Glenn: I love hearing about kids back home who were born with one, and then to see them, how they thrived. It can make virtually no difference. They can go on to do, like you're saying with this young fellow, great things. To be able to help pave the way for a child here to do that is extremely satisfying. That's our purpose.

Meet Florence. She Needs Our Help

Dave: That's why actually we're having this talk, is because you've shown me a picture, a couple pictures, of a young girl who's in this situation right now. She's got club foot, and we're hoping that the Make Your Body Work community and audience can help her out. Can you tell us a little bit about, her name's Florence?

Glenn: Yeah, sure. We would have any number of children who are on our radar who need help with club feet. Florence is one of them, she comes from a village that's quite remote. It's probably two and a half, three hours of pretty rural transportation driving to get there, outside of Jinja where we are in Uganda.

She has bilateral club feet, so that means both feet are curved inwards. She's three years old, and is the fourth-born of five kids. Her dad has three wives. Her mom has a total of five kids. I think in total there's 11 children between the three wives. You can imagine that she's not about to get treatment any time soon.

The family, as almost all of our families, is living in poverty. When I say poverty, I think we would consider it extreme poverty, having difficulty feeding the family. Not enough food, lack of nutrition, definitely lack of health care, lack of education, all of the indicators of poverty.

Florence is in that situation. She's a great candidate to have the feet corrected. There's no reason why we can't help get her straight feet, especially with the help of your community, if people sort of latched on to this and wanted to give back in this way.

Let's Help Florence Walk!

Dave: That's exactly the call. For anyone who's listening, Florence, I'll put a couple pictures of her in this podcast episode. Again, if you go to MakeYourBodyWork.com/100 you'll see Florence there, and you can see just taking a look at her, this poor girl, you can just see how painful it would be for her to try and get around.

We'll also put a link to a donation page on One For Another's website. You can go directly there if you like. It's really simple. It's O and then the number four A.ca/donate. That stands for One For Another. O4A.ca/donate. I'll have that link again in the podcast episode notes at MakeYourBodyWork.com/100.

When you go in there, you can choose any donation. Glenn, what are you looking for? What's a total that we can raise hopefully today to help Florence? How much do we need?

Glenn: If your community raised $500, what that would do is get her from where she is right now, which is living in her village, not having come in for any treatments yet, to the very end completion of her treatments when she's discharged from the program.

That would be everything. Within that comes all the castings, any surgical work that needs to be done to those ankle joints and the tendons, they often have to lengthen the Achilles and maybe transfer some tendons, then all the bracing. The braces, the crutches, physiotherapy, medication, so antibiotics after the operations, and pain killers and so on and so forth, the hospital fees.

Then in addition, all the transportation. Which in actual fact, transportation ends up being almost half the cost. At least I would say $150 of that 500 would be getting her, shuttling her back and forth, helping them pay for the public transit. That's what it would be looking like.

Dave: When you say $500, I just think, Make Your Body Work community, we can do that today. Raising $500 is something that we should be able to do almost instantaneously. If you go to that link again, it's O4A.ca/donate, you'll see that there's an opportunity to choose how much you want to give, and you can give any amount. Even if it's 10 bucks, anything will help.

I know Glenn, One For Another will send out charitable tax receipts so that this can be claimed on your income tax form. You'll see as you fill out on your form, I'm just on the page right now, there's a section towards the bottom where you can put in a comment or a note or write who this is in honor of. If you just write in Florence, then Glenn that'll tell you that this money is specifically for her, correct?

Glenn: Yep, that's right. We'll direct it to her fund, and then go from there.

How Long Will the Healing Process Take?

Dave: That's awesome. Glenn, hopefully this money, like I said, comes in really, really quickly, and Florence starts to get the treatment. How long will it take for her feet to be completely healed?

Glenn: From the beginning, like the first day of the initial casting that she would have to come in for until the end will roughly be I want to say six months. She'll hopefully be in braces, walking on straight feet but just in braces, within somewhere around three months. Not a long time.

Dave: That's awesome. Would you be able to, say three months from now, and then again six months from now, be able to take some pictures so that I can put them on this podcast episode?

Glenn: Oh yeah.

Dave: Yeah?

Glenn: Sure, absolutely. We'd be more than happy to report back and give the updates on what happens with her feet.

Dave: I'm excited. Again, to anyone who's listening, like I said, even if it's 10 bucks or 20 bucks, we need to hit 500 bucks to help Florence get the treatment she needs. Then we'll see where it goes from here. Glenn, you said you've basically got an unlimited number of children who are waiting to get medical attention, right?

Glenn: Yeah. We don't necessarily have an unlimited in terms of club feet kids, but the number ... We have a lot of children with club foot. Then beyond that, we've got probably half a dozen conditions that we're treating every day.

We have lots of children that could use help, that will give them a chance to walk properly in their life. I know, Make Your Body Work, it seems like it jives pretty well with what you're about, Dave, with your business.

Dave: I really hope this is just the start. Hopefully we can partner up and help many kids. Let's start with Florence. Glenn, I know you went through a lot of hassle and a lot of work to be here with us today, so thanks for making the time. Most of all, just thanks for the work you're doing. It's just so exciting hearing you talk about it.

Glenn: Oh great, well thanks so much for being interested, and showcasing, and this on your podcast. It's awesome. This literally is how our work gets done, is by people taking interest and sharing it with their friends. What you're doing here, we're so grateful for.

Dave: Glenn, thanks so much again for being on the show, and for battling weather and power outages, and stomach issues, and everything that you've gone through to get here and be with us today, so thank you. Thanks for the work that you're doing too.

I know that I'll speak for myself and for the audience when I say that hearing you speak about it, you can tell that you're really passionate about it, that you love these kids, and that your goal really is to help make their bodies work.

For us, all the listeners out there and myself included, Glenn threw out a story, just one story, of a little girl named Florence who the first three years of her life been living with very painful club foot, both club feet actually. It's something that we can so easily fix. He told us six months from now her life can be completely changed. It takes about 500 bucks, that's it. I'm just asking you to rally around Florence. Let's change this girl's life.

Let's have Glenn come back in six months and give us an update and show us pictures of how her life has been so changed because of the few dollars that maybe you contribute. I'll contribute as well. It's super easy to do that.

You can go to MakeYourBodyWork.com/100, you can see some pictures of Florence, and see why it's so important that we help her out. Then you can also click on the link that will take you to One For Another's website where you can donate. If you want to go straight there, again it's O4A.ca/donate. That'll take you to the donation page.

If the money you donate can help one child walk, that money is well spent!

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When you're donating there, just make sure at the bottom you add a comment or put in who this money is dedicated to, just type in Florence. Put in Florence's name, and then Glenn will know that that money goes directly to her.

Like I said when we were talking to Glenn just a second ago, I hope we raise that $500 literally in a couple hours, definitely today, as soon as you've heard this. Let's get that money. For our audience, for the Make Your Body Work community, this should be no problem.

I was saying to Glenn, after we finished recording, I was saying I hope we raise so much money that Florence's surgeries are taken care of, and then we've raised far beyond that to start touching the lives of some other children. I'm asking you to help out, to commit to helping Florence. Again, go to MakeYourBodyWork.com/100 and you can do that. I just want to thank you in advance. I'm really excited to see this change that we can make together.

That's it for today's episode, for our 100th episode. Again, thank you for being part of this journey, being part of this community, and for being a big part of this podcast. As always, if you have any questions for the podcaster, just questions in general, you can always reach me at [email protected]. That's it for today. I can't wait to see you here again next week.

Thanks for joining me today!

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