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Meet our Advocates.

Their stories of turning adversity
into advocacy will inspire you!

Browse through our collection of inspiring stories from our incredible advocates.

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Robert Villanueva

Diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2001

Became national speaker & trainer for The National Alliance on Mental Illness

Read His Story

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Lisa Ford Berry

Lost son, Michael, to peer abuse-driven suicide

Created nonprofit organization to combat peer abuse

Read Her Story

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Corey Reich

Diagnosed with ALS in 2007

Founded "Corey's Crusade" to give voice to ALS sufferers

Read His Story

Shira Strongin

Shira Strongin

Adversity: Undiagnosed rare disease

Advocacy: Health policy advocate and founder of an international community for young women with varying illnesses and disabilities

“I learned early on if I wanted to be heard, I’d have to raise hell and no one was going to come save me, I’d have to save […]

Christina Roth

Christina Roth

Adversity: Type 1 diabetes

Advocacy: Founded the College Diabetes Network

“I’m honored to be an advocate, along with so many inspiring individuals, and I’m passionate about empowering students and professionals living with Type 1 diabetes.”

Christina Roth was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 14. When she left home to […]

Patrick Filosa

Patrick Filosa

Adversity: Amputation

Advocacy: Raises money for nonprofits that serve young amputees

“I wanted to become an advocate because I can show the younger generation that with a good mind, heart and respect, anything’s possible.”

Patrick Filosa was born with neurofibromatosis, an inherited disorder of the nervous system that affects the development […]

Claire Wineland

Claire Wineland

Adversity: Cystic Fibrosis

Advocacy: Provides support through speaking, writing, social media and her nonprofit to help those affected by Cystic Fibrosis

“For me, patient advocacy is the difference between feeling like a victim in your own life or feeling empowered by it. All it takes to win back your power […]

Dr. Lamar Hardwick

Dr. Lamar Hardwick

Adversity: Diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (Asperger’s Syndrome)

Advocacy: Mentor to those on the autism spectrum; autism educator for churches, schools and nonprofits

“As a pastor, I often share that a great way to make a difference in the world is to not just focus on what you want […]

Daelyn James

Daelyn James

Adversity: Cystic fibrosis

Advocacy: Inventor, supporter and speaker for chronically ill children

“I feel like the most rewarding thing I can do is to help young kids battling CF realize that, in spite of CF, you can tell yourself, ‘I can do something, I can be someone, I can go […]

Leeza Gibbons

Leeza Gibbons

Adversity: Lost her mother and grandmother to Alzheimer’s disease

Advocacy: Has become a leading voice in the movement to create a world without Alzheimer’s

“I got drafted into serving on the front lines of Alzheimer’s advocacy, but now I see it as being the most fulfilling part of my destiny […]

Chrisfino Kenyatta Leal

Chrisfino Kenyatta Leal

Adversity: Incarcerated with a life sentence

Advocacy: Leads and is active in a host of self-help programs for prisoners

“As a formerly incarcerated individual and graduate of The Last Mile, I can tell you I didn’t get to where I am today by my efforts alone. The Last […]

Ann Graham

Ann Graham

Adversity: Cancer diagnosis

Advocacy: Founded a nonprofit to serve pediatric cancer patients

“I used to think that everything happens for a reason, until I saw children dying of cancer. Cancer was my best teacher and ultimately, a saving grace. I love my age, my birthdays, my wrinkles, my life.”

It all […]

Ethan Smith

Ethan Smith

Adversity: OCD

Advocacy: Shares his story as a keynote speaker.

“I was told early in my treatment, ‘The best thing you can do for your OCD is to help others.’ Not only have I found that statement true but necessary. Every person I speak with, helps me in some way to […]