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Featured Advocate Stories


Adam Busuttil


T.E.A.M. member (survived at age 19 years)

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 had no signs of meningitis until he went into septic shock while doctors were treating injuries related to a fall in the shower. 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.”


Claudette Cochrane-Lewis


M.O.M. of Cherice (age 19 years)

Cherice Cochrane

As a freshman in college, Claudette’s daughter, Cherice, was an outstanding student and a healthy young woman with dreams of attending medical school. On March 21, 2001, Claudette’s world was turned upside down when she learned that her daughter had died that morning from meningococcal disease, a serious, but vaccine-preventable bacterial infection. Cherice had been experiencing flu-like symptoms the day before and went to the school’s health services. She was diagnosed with the flu and told to go home and rest. It was only after Cherice’s death that Claudette learned a simple vaccination may have saved her daughter’s life.

“Cherice left behind a legacy of leadership and volunteerism,” said Claudette. “With that in mind I am working to help educate parents about the dangers of meningococcal disease and the importance of prevention methods.”


Jenna Mangiagli


T.E.A.M. Member and M.O.M. (Jenna survived at age 2 years)

Teresa Mangiagli

Jenna was almost two years old when she woke from a nap with a slight fever during a bad flu season. A little later, I suspected something wasn’t right and brought her to the home of a close friend and pediatrician. Jenna’s temperature was 106 degrees and she had two red dots under her arm. My friend sent us to the ER. The disease created deep open wounds, but Jenna survived without amputations. She had to learn to walk and talk again after being in the hospital over three weeks.

Teresa and Jenna are grateful that their friend recognized the early symptoms and feel lucky that Jenna fully recovered. They are working with NMA to help spread awareness about meningococcal disease in their community.


Jeri Greenwell


M.O.M. of Jerry (age 24 years)

Jerry Greenwell

On April 11, 2003, Jeri Greenwell’s son, Jerry, woke up feeling symptoms of what he thought was the flu. Later that day, his girlfriend came to check on him but his condition wasn’t improving. In the evening, she saw a rash on Jerry’s body and immediately called her mother, a registered nurse, who encouraged her to take Jerry to the emergency room. Jerry was unable to stand so his roommates carried him to the emergency room. Two hours later, Jerry was diagnosed with meningococcal disease and placed in the critical care unit. At first, it seemed the antibiotics were working against the potential infection, but sadly the disease had progressed too far and Jerry passed away April 14, 2003.

“If you as a parent could do anything to save your child, or someone else’s, I believe you would do whatever it took to ensure their well-being.”