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Beverly and Steve Ross

In March 2014, Beverly and Stephen Ross’ daughter, Stephanie, was attending Drexel University on a Ben Franklin Fellowship. She went to bed earlier than normal one Sunday night because she felt very tired. The next morning, her Phi Mu sorority sisters found her unresponsive in her room when she didn’t hear her alarm go off. Stephanie was rushed to the hospital where she died after several hours of trying to revive her. She was just 19 years old.

Stephanie had been vaccinated, but a few days after she passed away, her parents learned that she had contracted serogroup B meningococcal disease. Her case was connected to the outbreak that occurred at Princeton University. At the time, serogroup B vaccines were not approved in the U.S. Now, they are. Steve and Beverly want to raise awareness about available vaccines to protect against all major serogroups.

Andy Wilson

Andy’s daughter, Sarah, was a 21-year-old college student when she was rushed to the ER because of a severe headache and fever. Andy and his wife, Missy, rushed to the ER where they saw their daughter lose consciousness. ER physicians discovered a rash on her body and diagnosed her with serogroup B meningococcal disease. Sarah spent 13 days in the ICU and five days in a coma. She spent a total of six weeks in the hospital recovering. As a result of the infection, she is now hearing and vision impaired.

Andy and his wife made sure that Sarah was up-to-date on her vaccines before college. They did not know that, at the time, recommended vaccines did not protect against serogroup B. Now, vaccines are available and recommended to protect against this serogroup. Andy is committed to working with NMA to educate other families about the disease and make sure they vaccinate their children against all five major serogroups of the disease (A, C, W, Y and B).

Sarah Wilson

Sarah was a 21-year-old college student at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania when she contracted bacterial meningitis in 2014. She suddenly came down with a severe headache and fever, and was rushed to the emergency room.

While in the ER, she lost consciousness and a rash appeared on her body. The doctor diagnosed her with meningococcal disease and told her family that she might not survive. Sarah spent 13 days in the ICU and five days in a coma. She spent a total of six weeks in the hospital recovering. As a result of the infection, she is now hearing impaired.

Sarah had been vaccinated against meningococcal disease, but the recommended vaccines at the time did not protect her against serogroup B, which is what she had. Today Sarah is back in college studying occupational therapy. As a NMA T.E.A.M. member, she is committed to educating young adults about prevention to help protect them from this disease.

Michelle Jackson

In July 2012, Michelle’s eight-year-old son Deven complained that his throat hurt. She gave him some medicine and made a doctor’s appointment for the next day. By morning, he was confused and had a 105-degree fever. The doctor sent Deven to the ER where he was diagnosed with meningococcal blood infection. He survived but had to have both legs amputated below the knees due to damage caused by the infection.

Michelle wants parents to be aware of the symptoms of meningitis and understand that they can ask for meningococcal vaccination for their young children.

Jess Wolf

Aydia “Addy”, a bubbly, smiling little girl and best friend to her twin brother, Caydren, woke up crying one morning. Addy had a high fever and was acting strangely. She began vomiting. She was rushed to the ER where staff gave her antibiotics after noticing a purple spot and eventually moved her into the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU). On her way to the PICU, Addy went into respiratory failure. She was diagnosed with meningococcemia.

Addy stayed on a ventilator for more than a week. Slowly, the swelling in her body subsided. She spent a total of 22 days in the hospital. Addy had partial amputations on her fingers but survived without any other major lasting side effects. Six months later, Addy celebrated her first birthday with her brother. Although a vaccine is available for children as young as two months of age, Addy had serogroup B meningococcal disease, which is not covered by that vaccine. Jess and Tammy are incredibly thankful for their daughter’s survival and work with NMA to educate other parents about prevention.

Sandi Hoenstine

Sandi Hoenstine’s daughter, Faith, is part of a small, fortunate group of teens who have battled bacterial meningitis and escaped with their lives. When she was 14-years-old, Faith was rushed to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh with a fever, severe pain in her legs and back and a rash spreading across her body. For three months, Faith fought for her life, undergoing surgeries to amputate both legs, her left arm and her right hand. After six more months in the hospital for rehabilitation, Sandi and her husband were thrilled to welcome their daughter back home. Faith is currently a college student studying history.