Our prayers and sympathy go out to Laura Culp-Botgat's parents, "Coach" John and Sandy Culp, her husband, family and friends on her tragic passing in Paris, France. The Class of 1973.
Laura Leigh Culp Botgat Memorial Scholarship
•be an incoming freshman student that has been accepted to UCM •be a graduate of Warrensburg High School in Warrensburg, MO
•plan to pursue a degree in teacher education, political science, modern language and/or international studies
•demonstrate service to community and high school
•preference shall be given to a student interested in studying abroad
New law targets eating disorders
Under the bill, the departments of Mental Health, Elementary and Secondary Education and Higher Education must develop and implement awareness programs that the council will oversee. The council also will make sure adequate treatment and diagnostic services are available in Missouri. Botgat, 31, battled anorexia nervosa since high school and died in May 2009, her father said.
The Culps did not know much about Laura's condition at the start.
"She was running a lot and I thought she was just trying to improve," he said. "We didn't understand it, we didn't put two and two together."
He said the mental illness became physical. At the worst, she weighed 58 pounds and had been hospitalized numerous times. A heart attack led to her death.
Culp said he and wife Sandy do not want other parents to have the same experience.
"I am elated that the bill was signed," Culp said. "This is a first step of what we are trying to do to help others in Missouri." Senate Bill 754 passed on the last day of the legislative session after some lawmakers removed wording in the original bill that would have required mandatory insurance coverage for the condition. Sen. David Pearce carried the original bill, passed by the House, in the Senate. "I was carrying Bill 744 and that bill by itself was not going to pass. The insurance companies have major concerns about it and the committee needed more time to understand the issue," he said. Pearce said Sen. Tom Dempsey agreed to have the Missouri Eating Disorders Council proposal attached to his Senate Bill 754, ensuring the council's creation. Pearce is "thrilled" the bill passed.
"The Eating Disorders Council is a tremendous first step to making people aware of this illness," he said.The Department of Mental Health director will have the authority to determine the number of council members and who they are.
Pearce said the Culps "would be excellent additions to the council." Culp said Pearce and Reps. Denny Hoskins, Rachel Storch and Rick Stream proved "instrumental in getting the bill passed." "If it hadn't been for them, it wouldn't have passed," he said. Culp is the program development and retention coordinator for student athletes at the University of Central Missouri where he said he sees people with eating disorders. "Down the line, I'd love to see a support group and program at UCM," he said. "There isn't anything formal here and there should be."
The Culps are celebrating the bill's passage while deciding on the next course of action. For now, they plan to participate Feb. 2 in the Eating Disorders Rally in Jefferson City, he said.
"We have to start with awareness and let people know where they can go for help. I'd like to see a hotline get started," he said. "Hopefully we can get it done before others die."
|1/27/2010 11:17:00 AM|
Couple seeks change in Missouri law to require coverage of eating disorders
Warrensburg - John and Sandy Culp said goodbye to their daughter, Laura, Nov. 8, 2008, not knowing that would be the last time they would see her alive.
Laura, newly married to Philippe Botgat, of Paris, seemed to have her life in order when she boarded the plane for France with him.
"She was the happiest person after she got married," John Culp said.
Laura had achieved her goal of obtaining a bachelor's degree in political science and a master's degree in college student personnel administration, graduating cum laude from the University of Central Missouri. She then set out to fulfill a desire to travel overseas, Culp said.
But 13 years of living with an eating disorder, anorexia nervosa, took a toll on Laura's petite body. She suffered a heart attack, lapsed into a coma and died Saturday, May 2. She was 31.
"We never could get her potassium regulated," Culp said. "In Laura's case, it didn't matter if she was in the hospital or at home, we couldn't control her potassium."
Potassium is a mineral needed for cardiovascular functions.
Laura evaded questions about her health in phone calls from home, he said.
"We didn't know when she went to Paris if she would be under medical care. We never knew if she was being checked by a doctor," John said.
Notified of Laura's coma, the Culps prepared to leave that weekend for France. She died before they left.
The following Tuesday, the Culps traveled to Jefferson City to testify for a bill introduced last year to mandate that health insurance companies cover eating disorders. The bill "didn't go anywhere" last year, Culp said, but he promised legislators, "We will be back."
This year, Sen. David Pearce introduced Senate Bill 744 to require insurance companies to cover the diagnosis and treatment of eating disorders beginning Jan. 1, 2011.
The act requires the Department of Mental Health - in collaboration with the Departments of Health and Senior Services and Social Services - to diagnose and treat any resident without insurance coverage for eating disorders, or who need financial help to pay for those services.
Under the bill, the Departments of Mental Health, Elementary and Secondary Education and Higher Education must develop and implement education and awareness programs. A Missouri Eating Disorders Council would be established under the Department of Mental Health to oversee the programs and identify whether adequate treatment and diagnostic services are available in the state.
The legislation is sponsored in the House by Rick Stream, D-Kirkwood, who lost a daughter several years ago to an eating disorder, and Rachel Storch, R-St. Louis. Rep. Denny Hoskins of Warrensburg is a co-sponsor.
Proponents plan an Eating Disorders Day rally at 11 a.m. Feb. 2 at the State Capitol to raise awareness about eating disorders and to meet with legislators.
Culp said advocates have worked since last year to garner support from legislators for the bill. They need 60 co-sponsors to get the bill through the House, Culp said.
Lobbying efforts are led by Annie Seal of St. Louis, Culp said.
"She is one of the fortunate ones. They caught her daughter early and she's doing OK," Culp said.
He said Seal "started going to Jefferson City every week, walking the halls and talking to every legislator she could."
The Culps did the same in the fall, he said.
"David (Pearce) gave us some very good advice in how to work through the system," Culp said.
The bill, rewritten this year, brings eating disorders under the umbrella of mental illness, he said.
Pearce said the Culps brought the issue to his attention.
Eating disorders are biological, but the triggers often are cultural, the National Eating Disorders Association reported.
"One of the problems we've seen in the Legislature is that mental health doesn't get the same type of credibility or coverage other illnesses do," Pearce said. "If we put mental illness in the same category as other diseases, it will have more publicity."
An estimated 250,000 Missourians are affected by eating disorders, which begin as a mental condition and progress to severe medical disorders that include chronic heart conditions, osteoporosis, kidney failure and serious dental conditions.
The disorders include anorexia, characterized by self-starvation and excessive weight loss; bulimia, characterized by a secretive cycle of binge eating followed by purging; and binge eating disorder, or compulsive eating, characterized primarily by periods of uncontrolled, impulsive or continuous eating.
Culp said the fatality rate for anorexia "used to be 10 percent, but it's rising now to 20 percent." The disease mainly targets adolescent girls but is increasing among boys and women over 40.
Eating disorders are highly treatable, the association reports, and early intervention, diagnosis and treatment increase the likelihood of full recovery.
Research Hospital is the only Missouri hospital that provides a treatment program, Culp said.
Most treatment programs are private care, making coverage by health insurance policies less likely.
No treatment options exist in Warrensburg, Culp said. Hospitals will provide emergency care, but once patients are stabilized, they are released without any further treatment options.
"The problem is, if you have a pre-existing condition, you can't get insurance coverage," he said. "That was our problem with Laura. ... In the latter part of her life, Medicaid picked her up."
Without Medicaid, he said, the financial impact would have been devastating.
Pearce said he believes mandating insurance coverage for eating disorders will result in cost savings, rather than driving up insurance costs.
"If you catch it early, it's treatable," he said. "If you (treat patients) early on, they're not going to wind up in the ICU or emergency room."
Full treatment "up front" could cost $80,000, Seal said, but bills for several days of treatment in the emergency room or intensive care could be $250,000.
Bill sponsors said requiring insurers to provide coverage will encourage hospitals to provide treatment and expand access to other treatment options.
Culp said they also want insurance companies to allow patients to remain hospitalized longer at the start, "to see if they can solve the mental aspects before it goes to the medical."
The education and awareness programs are designed to alert parents, health care professionals, educators, coaches and the general public about signs and symptoms of eating disorders so they can be diagnosed in the early stage, he said.
Laura's problem began in her senior year of high school. As an assistant track coach, Culp said, he encouraged Laura to try out for track. He said he did not recognize Laura had a problem, though she would come home from a workout and run some more.
"As a coach, I thought she was trying to set the foundation for long-distance running," he said. "She was constantly running and working out - never in moderation, always full-out."
Dr. Brad Carper brought the problem to their attention that summer, but "for three and a half years, we never saw a problem," he said. "I didn't know anything about eating disorders. I didn't see it."
Many eating disorder victims are perfectionists, he said, but the Culps said they never insisted on perfection from Laura.
"We never talked about perfection," such as getting A's in school work, being outstanding in sports or having a certain body image, he said.
Laura had concerned friends, he said, but they told her parents they "didn't know what to say."
Culp said Laura told them the problem started when "she just could not find time to eat."
Her first hospitalization came at Baptist Memorial Hospital. She went into the intensive care unit "to get sodium back into her veins," Culp said.
When they left her there, he said, Laura "was trying to get out."
They told her she had to stay, he said.
"We cried all the way home. It was one of the worst days," he said.
Sandy said Laura stayed at Baptist Memorial about a month before hospital personnel said she had to leave because insurance would no longer pay.
A few months later, Laura had to return for 15 or 30 days before insurance again ran out, Sandy said.
For the next several years, Laura went through a succession of hospitalizations and sessions with private therapists.
"At her worst time, she weighed 58 pounds," John said, compared to her normal weight of 95 pounds.
During one stay at Research Hospital, the Culps heard Laura had a 30 percent chance of surviving because her potassium level fell so low.
The Culps said their insurance coverage always ran out before they felt Laura had adequate time to overcome her problem.
The bill for one hospitalization totaled about $250,000, Culp said.
Sandy said Laura paid $16,000 up front to be admitted to Research for one of her last hospitalizations, several months before her wedding.
After Laura's death, Culp said, he and Sandy embarked on a "guilt trip," questioning what they could have done differently to help Laura.
"As parents, you continue to beat yourself up," he said. "We thought it was our fault. We didn't understand."
Sandy said, "I've asked what happened in my child's life to trigger this. ... Laura would never say.
"One of the worst pains is burying a child. ... That's why we have to speak out. We don't want families to go through what we did. We want the victims of eating disorders to stay long enough so they have the opportunity to get well."
John said they met people with eating disorders at various hospitals - wives, cheerleaders, dancers and athletes - people for whom "a body image is important."
"What's so terrible about this disease is that it strikes down young people who have a future ahead of them," he said. "It takes the best of the best. That's why this bill is so important. It gives hope to people.
"If we don't get it passed this year, we'll keep going back until people listen.
The main thing is we want to help others so they don't have to bury a child with this disease."
The Culps plan to use money raised through memorial contributions for Laura to start a Web site for the state to raise awareness about eating disorders.
They said they believe Laura, who always helped others, would approve.
Culp to be honored by the Kansas City RoyalsJohn Culp, program development and retention coordinator for UCM Athletics, will be honored by the Kansas City Royals with the opportunity to join the Buck O’Neil Legacy Seat program at the April 9 home game with the Minnesota Twins.
(Courtesy photo) John Culp will be honored April 9 at Kauffman Stadium.
As a Buck O’Neil Legacy Seat honoree, Culp will be recognized during the pregame ceremony and enjoy the game from ‘Buck’s seat” behind home plate. Since 2007, the Royals and FOX Sports Kansas City have honored the legacy of the late Buck O’Neil by filling the Kansas City baseball legend’s reserved seat with a member of the community who embodies O’Neil’s vibrant spirit. O’Neil spent many days and nights supporting the Royals from behind home plate at Kauffman Stadium, both as a scout and a fan.
Culp was nominated for the honor in recognition of his efforts with his late wife, Sandy, to create awareness and promote legislation to combat eating disorders. A native of Johnson County, Mo., Culp is an alumnus of the University of Central Missouri. During a career in education and interscholastic athletics, he was a teacher, coach and administrator in the Warrensburg, Pleasant Hill, Harrisonville and Blue Springs School Districts.
Local coach a source of inspirationStory by Andy Lyons, News Editor
One of the many faces associated with University of Central Missouri Athletics is that of coach John Culp.
He’s been a face in the Warrensburg community for nearly 15 years as a teacher, principal and coach.
Culp is a graduate of UCM and was a teacher, coach and administrator in the Warrensburg R-VI School District prior to his retirement.
Since 2006, he has served UCM as program development and retention coordinator for UCM athletics. He also served as a member of the Warrensburg City Council, president of the Warrensburg Lions Club and in a variety of leadership roles with the First United Methodist Church of Warrensburg.
He has been recognized with the Distinguished Service Award by the Missouri Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association, and has served as a member of the UCM Alumni Association board of directors.
Culp has been an athletic counselor annually at Missouri Boys State on the UCM campus, and has served as a member of the City of Warrensburg Children’s Memorial committee.
He and his wife, Sandy, have been strong advocates for legislation enabling assistance for treatment of eating disorders in Missouri, following the death of their daughter, Laura, in May 2009, due to anorexia.
Despite the adversity he has faced in his personal life, Culp has maintained a positive attitude and outlook on life.
“My mother always said ‘it’s better to wear out than rust out,’” he said.
Beth Rutt, director of student activities at UCM, has known Culp for nearly 30 years. She said that after visiting with him, people tend to be more optimistic about life.
“He really just values human life and relationships,” Rutt said. “He really walks the talk [when it comes to genuinely caring about others].”
Rutt said that Culp would never intentionally offend anyone he encountered and really focuses on building people up. She has maintained her friendship with Culp through the loss of his daughter and through his wife being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010.
“Despite the adversity and challenges in his professional and personal life, he still has hope,” Rutt said.
Ed Wirthwein, assistant director of the Union at UCM, has known Culp for 18 years, and is an adviser for the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity at UCM, along with Culp. He said he agrees with Rutt that Culp is the type of person that doesn’t let his personal life affect maintaining a positive influence on young people.
“He’s always optimistic,” Wirthwein said. “If he knows it’ll help someone, he’ll sacrifice it. He’s the ultimate role-model and father figure, and he has no self-pity. What gets him through is seeing those around him succeed.”
Fraternity’s annual pageant benefits Culp familyStory by NICOLE Cooke, Copy Editor—
The Union Ballroom was full of applause, laughter and talent Tuesday night as a full audience cheered on the 14 contestants in the second annual Laura Culp Pageant.
Women from the Greek community and the Health and Fitness Association donned their best floor-length gowns and competed for the title of Miss Laura Culp 2013, sponsored by Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity.
The event had a late start, due to the large number of people wanting to purchase tickets. At one point, the line reached the Union information desk, making it necessary to add chairs to the room, which had already been set up for maximum capacity.
“It’s not usually good to start an event late, unless the reason is because you still have a line of people waiting to get in,” said TKE President Luis Benavides. “That’s a good sign.”
Once the night began, the women were each escorted in by a member of TKE. The women treated the audience to a group dance number, with their TKE escorts joining them for the finale.
Before the pageant continued, Stacy Allen, a high school classmate of Laura Culp and a member of the Laura Culp Memorial Fund committee, said a few words describing the scholarships and thanking everyone in attendance for their support.
John Culp, program development and retention coordinator for UCM athletics, also said a few words. His short speech may have caused a tear or two in the audience as he spoke fondly about his wife, Sandy, who died just a few weeks ago, and his daughter, Laura, who died in 2009. He also thanked those in attendance, as well as TKE for hosting the event.
The talent portion showcased a wide variety of talents, including several choreographed dances, several vocal solos, instrumental solos and baton twirling.
In typical college philanthropy event fashion, there were some awkward time gaps between the talent acts. However, the TKE hosts, Connor Coleman and Tyran Banks, filled the space with their commentary on the acts, as well as with jokes, rapping and testing out their own dance moves.
In the final segment, the contestants chose their own interview question by pulling a slip of paper out of a bowl. The questions ranged from describing the perfect date and what three items they want during a zombie apocalypse, to describing overcoming a challenge and who is their role model.
The judges needed extra time to tally the votes. Then came the announcement of the winners. Amanda Sasek, Miss Alpha Sigma Alpha, received the crown, with Courtney Whitaker, Miss Sigma Pi, placing second and Rachel Spotz, Miss Sigma Kappa, placing third.
“I thought all 14 did great, and it was interesting how long it took for the judges to get the scores,” Coach Culp said. “I would not want to be a judge. So much beauty and talent, and I really liked the questions.”
While the contestants were entertaining, it was the philanthropy behind the pageant that stole the show. All the money raised for the event went to the Laura Culp Memorial Fund, which provides scholarships that are given to Warrensburg High School students that will be attending UCM.
The fund, which was started in 2009, is in memory of Laura Culp. Laura died May 2, 2009, at the age of 31 due to her lifelong struggle with anorexia.
“We started the scholarship because Laura had received her bachelor’s and master’s from UCM,” Coach Culp said. “With her disease, school was so important to her.
“Laura always gave back to others, and we really feel great that we can remember her by these scholarships. Her legacy continues to live on.”
The first scholarship was given out in 2009, and since that first award, the fund has continued to grow. One $400 scholarship was given in 2009. In 2012, two $500 scholarships were given.
Not only has the scholarship fund grown, but the pageant has as well. Last year’s event had six contestants and raised about $1,500. This year’s event raised about $3,000.
Coach Culp and members of his family were in attendance to support the contestants, as well as TKE. Coach Culp is an alumnus of TKE, and currently advises the UCM chapter.
“It’s not so much that the man is a TKE. It’s more of this man is an inspiration,” Benavides said. “He does so much for this town, school and the people that he meets every single day. He is a man that keeps on giving.
“Having Coach and his family there shows the entire community what this event means to them. Laura was a loving woman, wife and daughter. Having them there inspires us to be the best we can and really expand this event.”
Coach Culp also made an appearance at the final rehearsal to speak with the contestants. Benavides said that Coach Culp has made it a tradition to do this.
“I think that is when it clicks to the contestants,” Benavides said. “This is the ‘why’ the contestants do what they do, and also why we do what we do as a fraternity.”
When Coach Culp talked with the contestants, he gave each one a gold dollar, which he said represents how much his family appreciates the contestants supporting them, as well as those fighting eating disorders.
“I thanked them all for participating and said that there would be no losers in this pageant,” he said.
All the contestants said they appreciated getting the chance to speak with him.
“He is so incredibly supportive of the pageant and of all the girls that competed,” she said. “I was so honored to stand before him as the winner because I know how much it meant that we all took the time to be part of something he cares so intensely about.”
For Sasek, it wasn’t winning the pageant that was important. It was important she was supporting a cause that hit close to home.
“I entered the pageant because I know Coach Culp and I was someone who struggled with an eating disorder throughout high school, so it was personal to me,” she said.
Now that she holds the title, Sasek plans to make the most of her time with the crown.
“I want to be an ambassador for this benefit pageant and encourage the community and organizations on campus to support the cause in years to come,” she said. “Winning this pageant meant so much to me because I personally overcame an eating disorder and I believe more awareness should exist about how dangerous they can be.”
If you would like to make a donation to the fund, contact Benavides at firstname.lastname@example.org or Coach Culp at email@example.com.