M.O.M. of Paula (age 21 years)
Evelyn Brooks lost her 21-year-old daughter, Paula, a senior at the University of Missouri, to a rare bacterial infection called meningococcal disease. One morning in February 1999, Paula came down with flu-like symptoms. She called her mom and Evelyn assured her it was probably the flu and to rest. Hours later, after appearing listless and vomiting violently, friends rushed Paula to the emergency room. Doctors performed a spinal tap, confirming Paula had meningococcal disease. Within a few hours, Paula’s organs started to fail and her skin was covered in a purple rash. Despite treatment, doctors were unable to save Paula, and she lost her battle to meningococcal disease. Evelyn had studied meningococcal disease while in nursing school but never suspected such a rare, yet potentially fatal, disease could strike her 21-year-old daughter.
“If I knew then what I do now about meningococcal disease and how deadly it can be, I would have had Paula vaccinated,” said Evelyn. “As a parent, you want to do everything you can to protect your children.”
Charlotte and Harvey Hodges
Parents of Michael (age 44 years)
In May 2009, the Hodges’ son Mike came down with a severe headache. After two visits to the ER, doctors began to suspect bacterial meningitis, but it was too late. Their big loveable bear of a man died at 44 years of age, less than three days after his symptoms began. Charlotte and Harvey have dedicated themselves to honoring Mike’s memory by raising awareness about meningococcal disease symptoms and prevention. They work with NMA with hope that other families can be educated about and protected from this disease.
Tim and Rachel Small
Parents of Madison (Age 18)
In April 2015, Tim and Rachel’s youngest child, Madison, was a healthy high school senior. She was the captain of her softball team and planned to attend Virginia Tech.
One Monday afternoon, she suddenly did not feel well and went to urgent care, but was sent home. That night, she complained of a severe headache and went to the local hospital. She was immediately airlifted to Inova Fairfax Hospital. By then, it was too late – her organs were already failing. She passed away on Tuesday morning.
Tim and Rachel are dedicated to bringing awareness to this disease and its prevention so that no other parents have to go through what they went through.