Family honors daughter's memory

Times Herald-Record, New York/October 6, 2014

By Tracy Baxter

James Arthur Ray has moved on. Ginny and George Brown have not. Ray has resumed his work in the motivational self-help business after serving 20 months of a two-year prison sentence for causing the death of three people, including George and Ginny’s daughter. It took only a couple of months for the internationally-acclaimed Ray to get beyond the criminal negligence conviction and re-start his career. The Browns have no intention of putting all of that in the past.

It was five years ago this month when Kirby Anne Brown - a 1989 Minisink Valley grad - headed to Arizona to take part in Ray’s spiritual retreat, billed as a way for participants to improve their lives. Those motivated by Ray’s inspirational words hoped to be taking part in a life-changing experience.

What they endured were days of sensory deprivation. Kirby and two other “vision quest” attendees died after getting herded into a makeshift sweat lodge where they were told suffering and dehydration were vital parts of their journey toward personal growth and discovery. More than a dozen others were injured.

Ginny is convinced Kirby never would have signed up for the retreat had she known Ray lacked the moral integrity to protect those who had entrusted themselves to him. It’s why the Westtown couple continue their personal journey to educate and protect others through SEEK Safely (Self-Help Empowerment through Education and Knowledge), the organization they founded to push for safety standards and guidelines in what has been an unregulated industry.

It’s been an uphill battle. The Browns want those in the self-help field to sign a pledge of integrity, a “SEEK Safely” promise to voluntarily hold themselves accountable. Their call continues to fall on deaf ears. And Ginny can’t believe that people like Oprah - who had touted Ray’s books and DVDs during appearances with her before the sweat lodge deaths - haven’t spoken out in their behalf about what could happen when self-help seekers don’t do their due diligence.

The Browns remain undeterred. Ginny went to the scene of the crime in June to hold a summit on self-help ethics and safety. She’s been speaking at colleges and to organizations, letting folks know they need to ask questions, recognize red flags and look beyond random testimonials before they put themselves in the hands of someone capable of doing them harm.

On Saturday, Oct. 18, from 2 to 7 p.m., Kirby’s spirit will be alive and well at Thomas Bull Memorial Park in the Town of Hamptonburgh. The public is invited to join Kirby’s family and friends at the Hudson Valley Blues & Jazz Fest that’ll benefit the efforts of SEEK. Musicians who knew and loved Kirby will be performing.

Ginny says this will be more than a fundraiser. It’ll be a celebration of the lives of Kirby Anne Brown, James Shore and Liz Newman - three people who lost their lives because of the “teachings” of a charismatic person they’d trusted.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.

Educational DVDs and Videos