NMA Advocates

Search by Name

View by State

Featured Advocate Stories


Jeri Acosta


M.O.M. of Robert (age 20 years)

Robert Acosta

Jeri’s son, Robert, was an active, energetic student at The University of Louisiana – Lafayette when he began feeling ill and complained of groin pain. At the school health center, he was diagnosed with a pulled muscle and sent home. Shortly after, Robert started vomiting and was rushed to the hospital, where a rash developed over his body. He was placed in the ICU and diagnosed with meningococcal disease. Sadly, Robert passed away only 21 hours after his first symptom. It was not until after Robert’s death that Jeri learned vaccination could potentially have saved her son’s life. Robert once told Jeri, “There are talkers in life, and there are doers. The talkers just talk and never accomplish anything. But the doers get stuff done. Let’s start a revolution of doers, Mom.” With this in mind, Jeri has made it her mission to educate others about the disease and its prevention.

“I pray that by educating others I can save as many lives as possible, in Robert’s memory,” said Jeri. “I’m not going to let anyone forget.”


Kaitie Mayberry Hauser


T.E.A.M. member (survived at age 20 years)

Kaitie (Mayberry) Hauser was a Freshman College Student at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA when she contracted meningococcal meningitis in 1996. She actually contracted the disease while on Spring break and staying at Arizona State University but presented a few days later while returning for the spring semester to her college in Allentown. Her symptoms started out like the flu…fever, migraine, vomiting, and a strange purple rash. The Doctors at the ER thought she had Toxic shock Syndrome or the Chicken Pox and they were going to send her back to the dorm. Had they done that, she would never have survived. Within 24 hours of symptom onset and a few hours after arriving at Sacred Heart Hospital, she was fighting for her life as her heart stopped and her organs shut down. She was placed in a medically induced a coma, was on a ventilator, and given her last rites. Her family was flown in from Illinois. She was given less than 1 % chance of survival.

Kaitie spent the next 11 days in the hospital, and miraculously survived this disease with no physical residual effects. Hauser finished college, and pursued her dreams of theatre by getting involved with several different theatre companies in Illinois on the stage and behind the scenes. She was married in the the Fall of 2008 and currently works in the insurance industry in marketing and client relations. Hauser was introduced to NMA in the summer of 2008, when a NMA MOM read a story about her that was printed in the local paper in Connecticut where she attended High School.

Samantha Bennett


T.E.A.M. member (survived at age 9 months)

At 9 months old, Sam contracted meningococcal disease. Her mom thought she had the flu but when her condition worsened, she knew something was seriously wrong and rushed her to the emergency room. Doctors recognized the symptoms of the potentially fatal bacterial infection and did everything they could to save her life. Sam survived, but her skin was permanently scarred, her nose damaged, and several fingers and toes were amputated. In spite of these challenges, Sam has gone on to start a family and works as an artist. She is dedicated to raising awareness about meningococcal disease and the importance of prevention.

“Make the most of every chance you have, especially if you have a chance to encourage change someone‚Äôs life for the better.”


Suzanne Schoelen


M.O.M. of Braden (age 10 years)

Braden Schoelen

Suzanne’s son Braden was 10-years-old when he lost his life to meningococcal disease. In January 2010, Braden woke up with a headache, fever and pain in his arms and legs. Minutes later, he began to vomit, so thinking her son had the flu, Suzanne kept him home from school. By early afternoon he was too weak to walk, and had become disoriented and confused. Suzanne then noticed a small rash on his ear. Braden was taken to a local hospital and emergency room doctors recognized the rash as a telltale symptom of meningococcemia. They rushed him to isolation where he was placed on antibiotics. Despite doctors’ efforts, Braden went into cardiac arrest and lost his battle to meningococcal disease just 17 hours after the initial onset of symptoms.

“I didn’t know about meningococcal disease before it struck my son,” said Suzanne “I encourage parents to educate themselves about this disease and speak to their children’s healthcare providers about vaccination.”