Running to Honor Those We’ve Lost to Meningitis

14 Jan

“January 1st marked the 10 year anniversary of my battle and survival of bacterial meningitis (meningococcal). My heart and brain were the only two organs that didn’t fail that day. But my heart still breaks every time I see another unvaccinated adolescent or young adult taken in the prime of their lives, unprotected for the battle of a lifetime.”—T.E.A.M. Member Mike LaForgia

Mike is an NMA T.E.A.M. member, meningococcal disease survivor, and avid runner who has completed four marathons, including two as a double amputee.

Mike’s amputations were the result of contracting meningococcal disease at age 39. The infection came on suddenly as he, his wife and his three children were celebrating the 2004 New Year. Mike survived, but lost his right leg below the knee and part of his left foot. He spent two months in the hospital and five months in rehabilitation.

Despite these obstacles, Mike returned to running competitively, only now he runs to raise awareness in honor of those who lost their lives to meningococcal disease. “Through my work with NMA, I’ve met many other families who have been affected by meningococcal disease as well as parents who have lost their children because of it,” says Mike. “Meningococcal disease changed my life, and it’s important to me to honor those who haven’t survived. As a father of three teenagers, an age group that is at higher risk for infection, I encourage parents to speak to their teen’s doctors about routine vaccination against serogroups A, C, W and Y and the newly approved vaccine for serogroup B.”

Mike is now training hard for the Florida Keys Ragnar Relay, which will take place February 6 to 7. He and 11 other team members will each run about 18 miles to cover the distance from Miami to Key West. During this race, as he has before, Mike will be wearing a shirt bearing the names some of the loved ones we’ve lost to this terrible disease.

Help us cheer Mike on by supporting his mission: watch his story, share what you’ve learned and get your children vaccinated. If you would also like to support him with a donation, you can do so here.

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