Highlights from our annual gala to help #PreventMeningitis
On April 27, 2015 we gathered NMA families, supporters and immunization advocates in New York City for NMA’s seventh annual “Give Kids A Shot!” gala to honor the memories of those we’ve lost to meningococcal disease, as well as the families and survivors who have been affected by this potentially preventable disease.
At the same time, we celebrated the advances we have made in increasing awareness about meningococcal disease and its prevention. These strides would not have been possible without the work of many, including our extraordinary honorees:
Health Achievement Award: Carol Baker, MD
Dr. Baker has worked as an attending physician in infectious diseases for 40 years, describing this work on the frontlines as her “first love in medicine.” A role model for many in the field, she works tirelessly to educate parents as well as the medical and public health community about meningococcal disease diagnosis and prevention.
At the Gala she shared a little about why raising awareness is so important to her: “I began to hate meningococcal disease while holding my just deceased 14-year-old patient in my arms when I was an intern at Los Angeles County Hospital. This was a too long journey marked by many more losses, hope with the development of the first vaccine that not only was imperfect but also not used, and finally joy when I became a member of the national committee that recommended a new and much more effective vaccine 10 years ago. We all have more to do, however.”
T.E.A.M. Outstanding Service Award: Samantha Bennett
T.E.A.M. member Samantha Bennett survived meningitis when she was just nine months old and is now a talented professional artist. For more than five years, she has shared her story regularly with college students and local policymakers. Sam integrates her advocacy into everything she does, from presenting her paintings at local art studios to educating the public about meningococcal disease while participating in national reality television shows.
At the podium Sam congratulated all of NMA’s M.O.M.s and T.E.A.M. members for their bravery and dedication. She said that as a mom now, she “cannot fathom my children being as sick as I was.” Sam urges everyone to talk to a healthcare provider about meningococcal vaccination.
Nancy Ford Springer Inspiration Award: Kevin Carroll, MS, CP, FAAOP
Kevin Carroll is the VP of Prosthetics for Hanger Clinic and his commitment to improving prostheses has placed him at the forefront of numerous breakthroughs. He focuses on listening to each person’s thoughts and concerns and understanding their unique situations. Kevin’s work has helped some of our T.E.A.M. members and has also improved the lives of many other meningitis survivors (about 20% of whom live with long-term complications including amputations).
Kevin said that “it is a privilege to work with those who have survived meningococcal disease. Witnessing their strength and determination is an inspiration to me, and one of the most rewarding parts of my job,” and that his first-hand experience has made him an advocate for meningococcal prevention.
Champion of Progress Award: Gary Springer
This year we, and his son T.E.A.M. member Nick Springer, were honored give a special – and surprise – Champion of Progress Award to Gary Springer in recognition of his tireless dedication to making the gala a success each and every year and, more importantly, his commitment to realizing Nancy Ford Springer’s vision of a world where families don’t have to deal with this devastating disease.
Thank you to everyone who helped make this night possible and those who have supported and continue to support our work!
If you were unable to attend the gala but would like to support NMA, click over to Charity Buzz to bid on items including lunch with The Americans star Richard Thomas, New York Yankees tickets or a behind the scenes tour of Good Morning America!