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Alicia Stillman

Alicia’s daughter Emily was a college sophomore when she woke one night with a terrible headache. She was taken to the hospital and treated for a migraine. Emily’s condition worsened and by the next morning, they knew she had bacterial meningitis. At first, Alicia and her husband Michael believed everything would be okay. Emily had been vaccinated. By the time Alicia reached the hospital, however, Emily was intubated. Within hours, she was brain dead. Alicia and Michael said their goodbyes, and Emily passed away from strain B meningococcal disease less than three days after arriving at the hospital. Alicia is working with the NMA so she can educate her community about this dreaded disease, including symptoms and vaccine coverage.

Bea Rosalez

As a junior in high school, Bea Rosalez’s son, Lucas, was an active, respectful young man who loved snowboarding, running cross country and spending time with his friends.

One afternoon in the early summer of 2007, Lucas wasn’t feeling very well and thought he was coming down with the flu. Within hours, Lucas’ condition worsened and he became disoriented and confused, his breathing became incredibly rapid, and he began developing a small purple rash behind his ear. Once at the hospital, Lucas was diagnosed with meningococcemia, a form of meningococcal disease that poisons the blood system, and died only 12 hours after his first symptoms appeared. It was not until after Lucas’ death that Bea learned there was a vaccine available that could have potentially saved her son’s life.

Peggy LaPorte

Peggy’s daughter, Jennifer, was a 24-year-old woman who had her whole life ahead of her. She had a good job and was going to school full time at a community college. On Monday, March 7, 2005, Jennifer came down with a bad headache. A few hours later, she started vomiting and had a fever of 103.4. That night Jennifer collapsed on the bathroom floor and Peggy rushed her to the hospital. By the next morning, Jennifer’s lips turned blue and a purple rash covered her body. She was placed on a ventilator, but when her condition worsened, Jennifer was transported to another hospital. At first, she seemed to show improvement, however, she began to have difficulty breathing, and her liver and kidneys continued to fail. It wasn’t until after Jennifer’s death that Peggy learned vaccination can prevent meningococcal disease.

“I didn’t know about this disease, none of us did,” said Peggy. “This could have been prevented.”

Michele Goeke

Denise Copp

Denise Copp’s son Trevor was a freshman at Georgia Tech University, who was living at home, when meningococcal disease took his life. Trevor wasn’t feeling well one morning, but Denise assumed he was exhausted from his fraternity initiation. However, when he began vomiting, and complained of chills and sensitivity to light, Denise took him to the emergency room. Hours later, doctors noticed a purple rash and suspected meningococcal disease. They began treating him with antibiotics, but it was too late. Trevor died 15 hours after his symptoms started.

“If I knew then what I do now about meningococcal disease and how deadly it can be, I would have had Trevor vaccinated,” said Denise. “As a parent, you do everything you can to protect your children.”

Adam Busuttil

Adam Busuttil was a healthy college student majoring in music education and marching in a drum line as part of a Big Ten band when he almost lost his life to meningococcal disease. Adam’s symptoms started like cold or flu. He fell in the shower and while doctors were treating the injuries related to the fall, he went into septic shock. That was when he was diagnosed with meningitis. Adam lost parts of seven fingers and four toes to the disease. He spent a year in therapy relearning everyday tasks and how to play percussion instruments. Adam is now a high school music teacher and an advocate for meningococcal disease education and prevention.

“As a high school educator, I feel it’s important that I share my experience with meningitis so my students don’t have to go through the same ordeals I did,” said Adam. “I hope that people learn from my experience and get vaccinated.”