November 2011  

Judge Emmett Taps Top Mental Health Expert,
Former Judge to Take on Future Challenges
Bill Schnapp
Bill Schnapp

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett recently hired a top regional mental health expert and a former district court judge as part of an overall staff restructuring designed to focus on what he believes will be some of the key issues facing Harris County over the next several years.

Emmett hired Dr. William B. Schnapp, 63, to serve as his mental health policy advisor, a newly created position. Schnapp is a past member of the Texas Board of Mental Health and Mental Retardation and past chairman of the Texas Council on Offenders with Mental Impairments, both gubernatorial appointments. He also served as chairman of the Mental Health Needs Council from 1994 to 2008 and has faculty appointments at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston, the University of Texas School of Public Health, Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Houston. Schnapp joined Emmett's staff this summer and will play a key role in Emmett's mental health initiatives.
"I have said over and over again in my public appearances that mental health issues will be a top priority for me and the county in coming years," Emmett said. "Many of our mentally ill neighbors end up in the Harris County Jail because of public misunderstanding of their illness and because of a shortage of viable treatment options. I've asked Bill Schnapp to help me work on finding better ways for the county to invest in treatment that will lower our law-enforcement and jail costs and ensure more humane treatment for many of our friends and neighbors." Bill Henderson
Bill Henderson
Emmett also recently hired former District Judge Bill Henderson to serve as the office's legal counsel. Henderson, a former Harris County District Court judge and private attorney advises Emmett on a myriad of legal issues, including those involving federal and state law and county policy.
Henderson, 61, is a graduate of The Johns Hopkins University and the University of Texas School of Law.
November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month
“Know It. Fight It. End It.”
Complimentary Educational Packet Although pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest cancers and the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States, significantly less money is spent on pancreatic cancer research than on any of the other leading cancer killers. In addition, pancreatic cancer is on the rise while the survival rate has not improved substantially in 40 years, according to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, a national patient advocacy organization working to advance research, support patients, and create hope for those affected by pancreatic cancer. The network's goal is to double the pancreatic cancer survival rate by 2020.
The exact causes of pancreatic cancer are not yet well understood, and there are no early detection methods. Symptoms are vague and do not always lead to a correct diagnosis. Some studies, however, have identified a number of potential risk factors. These are listed as:
  Family history
  Chronic pancreatitis/hereditary pancreatitis
  Race (ethnicity)
  Physical inactivity

(Click here for expanded information on potential risk factors.)

The Houston Affiliate of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network hosts activities and fundraisers, maintains a Facebook site, and is working to get members of Congress to co-sponsor the Pancreatic Cancer Research and Education Act.  It is inviting more citizens to volunteer by joining its efforts to advance research, support patients and create hope for the pancreatic cancer community.  

To raise awareness, members of the Houston Affiliate have called upon its elected officials to help spread the word. To date, 36 proclamations have been secured around Houston recognizing November as National Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. Residents are encouraged to wear purple during the month of November and stand up for every one of the estimated 6,996 people who will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the United States between Oct. 4 and Nov. 30, 2011. L. to R.: Harris County Commissioners Jack Cagle and Steve Radack, County Judge Ed Emmett, Volunteer Michelle Lozano, cancer survivor Susan Bowman, Commissioners El Franco Lee and Jack Morman.
L. to R.: Harris County Commissioners  Jack Cagle and Steve Radack, County Judge Ed Emmett, Volunteer Michelle Lozano, cancer survivor Susan Bowman, Commissioners  El Franco Lee and Jack Morman.

In addition, the Houston Affiliate joined thousands of people across the country to participate in one of more than 55 "PurpleLight" National Vigil for Hope events on Nov. 20, 2011. The local event took place in commemoration of November as National Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month and to honor those who have fought pancreatic cancer and celebrate survivors, while creating community awareness about this deadly disease.

Following on the heels of the PurpleLight vigil, the Houston Affiliate is hosting its first "PurpleStride" event – a timed 5k walk/run to promote awareness and raise funds for pancreatic cancer research.  The event will take place on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2011, at Oyster Creek Park in Sugar Land. Registration begins at 7 a.m., and the walk begins at 8:30 a.m.

This community event is planned and run entirely by local volunteers, and everyone is invited to participate.  The walk begins and ends within the park grounds.  Live music, kids activities and a kids 1k will take place throughout the morning.  To register, visit

Events like the PurpleLight National Vigil for Hope and the PurpleStride run/walk are two of the ways the organization is working to achieve the goal of doubling the survival rate for pancreatic cancer by 2020.  To learn more about the organization and how you can volunteer, visit  Together, we can know, fight and end this deadly disease.