NMA Advocates in Iowa

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Kathy Huddleson


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

Elizabeth Huddleson

One day, Kathy Huddleson’s daughter, Elizabeth, a junior at the University of Northern Iowa, felt sick with what she thought was the flu. Elizabeth decided to take a shower and noticed purple spots on her skin. A few minutes later, she began to feel extremely cold and had difficulty breathing. Concerned, her boyfriend, Nick, drove her to the hospital. Doctors performed a spinal tap, but did not find signs of meningococcal disease. They told Elizabeth to go home to rest. Later that night, Elizabeth’s condition worsened, and Nick brought her back to the emergency room, where he called her parents to alert them their daughter was seriously ill. The Huddlesons hurried to the hospital, but sadly were unable to see Elizabeth before she died. It wasn’t until after Elizabeth’s death that Kathy learned vaccination can prevent meningococcal disease.

“If I had known about the dangers of meningococcal disease, I would have had Elizabeth vaccinated. It is so important for parents to be educated about the risks and prevention of this very devastating disease.”

Kolton Kersten


T.E.A.M member (survived at age 22)

In 2013, Kolton was a student at Midland University. He was also a star wrestler who ranked second in the nation in collegiate wrestling. During practice one day, he suddenly didn’t feel well – his body hurt and he hardly had any energy. He drove himself to a doctor’s office where he was diagnosed with mononucleosis, also known as “mono”. He was sent back to his dorm and told to take Tylenol and rest.

Throughout the night, his symptoms progressed – he threw up repeatedly, was unable to move, and developed a purplish rash all over his arms and legs. Early the next morning, his roommate rushed him to a local hospital. Hours later he was on a life-flight to the University of Nebraska Medical Center. His family rushed to UNMC where he was read his last rites and was given a 10 percent chance of survival. He survived, but lost 65 pounds and was left with scars all over his arms and legs. He underwent intense physical therapy, but today he has made a comeback and is now a wrestling coach at Northwestern College in Iowa. Among the students he coaches is another bacterial meningitis survivor, Preston, who survived at age 6 and lost both legs to the disease.

Kolton had been vaccinated against meningococcal disease, but he contracted serogroup B. At the time, there were no serogroup B vaccines available but now there are. He educates others about available vaccines to prevent this disease so no other family has to go through what his went through.

Cindy Lapel


M.O.M. of Andy (survived at age 18 years)

Andy Lapel

Cindy Lapel was planning to get her 18-year-old son, Andy, and his twin sister, Angela, immunized in August before they left for college. Unfortunately, she was not aware that young adults are at increased risk for contracting this terrible disease, even before college. In May 2003, Andy, a high school senior, began feeling ill while pitching a baseball game. When his symptoms began to progress, Cindy brought him to the hospital where doctors realized Andy had meningococcal disease. As a result of the disease, Andy sustained organ damage and underwent amputation of some fingers and toes.