Community Heroes

Ordinary people can become extraordinary in their journey through life — and this has never been truer than for people living with vasculitis.  Look around and you’ll see that there are everyday heroes living among us.  During Vasculitis Awareness Month the VF will be highlighting a few of the many everyday heroes from our vasculitis community.

An example of a VF Heroes card

Nominate your Vasculitis Patient or Care Partner Hero

Nominations for 2024 Vasculitis Foundation Community Heroes are now closed.

Profiles of the 2024 Community Heroes will be shared in May as part of Vasculitis Awareness Month

Nominations for 2025 Community Heroes will open in January of 2025.

Meet Our 2023 Community Heroes

We asked for patient & care partner hero nominations from the vasculitis community and we were overwhelmed with the number of people whose names were submitted. Judges from outside the vasculitis community chose 14 of the nominees’ to share their personal stories as 2023 Community Heroes. By sharing their stories, they help to increase awareness of vasculitis to those outside of the vasculitis community while providing hope and inspiration to all. 

View our 2022 Community Heroes

Patient Hero Stories: The Top 9

Ordinary People – Everyday Heroes. When faced with a diagnosis, the road ahead may look scary. But that’s when our patients with vasculitis tap into their superpowers of strength, hope and resilience. Here are a few of the many stories from our everyday heroes whose positive attitude and determination to fight back against the disease is extraordinarily inspiring.

2023 VF PATIENT HERO

Aggelos Ahuja

Granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA) • 2020

“The struggle you’re in today is developing the strength you need tomorrow.”

2023 VF PATIENT HERO

Ezra Alvarez

Granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA) • 2020

“When you know you’re rare, you move different, and you don’t waste your rarity trying to convince anyone of it, you just keep on being rare until someone realizes it and won’t treat you like anything less than what you are, which is rare.”

— B. McCoy

2023 VF PATIENT HERO

Edward Buckley

Granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA) • 2012

“Wake up every day with the desire to give back. It will prolong your life and improve the lives of others.”

2023 VF PATIENT HERO

Litzcelis Coreano

Granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA)• 2019

No hay oportunidad de rendirse, cada paso que damos es un logro y cada momento difícil nos enseña lo fuerte que somos. Vive, ama que esto es solo una prueba que nos dio la vida.

— Litzcelis Coreano

2023 VF PATIENT HERO

Kristin Hultgren

Granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA) • 2017

“Please take responsibility for the energy you bring into this space.” 

Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor

2023 VF PATIENT HERO

Lauren Orwoll

Takayasu’s Arteritis • 2016

“Be kind, because everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”

— Lauren Orwoll

2023 VF PATIENT HERO

Sherry Soon

Livedoid vasculitis • 2000

“As a patient with vasculitis, I’ve never let my illness define me. I choose to live life purposefully and make each moment count.”

— Sherry Soon

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2023 VF PATIENT HERO

Sha Ulshafer

Eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis (EGPA) • 2021

“When you face difficult times know that challenges are not sent to destroy you. They’re sent to promote, increase and strengthen you.”

— Sha Ulshafer

2023 VF PATIENT HERO

Ashley Vanderpan

Granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA) • 2016

“As someone who has faced a difficult diagnosis, I know firsthand the power of resilience and determination. I am living proof that with a positive mindset and unwavering perseverance, I can accomplish any goal I set out to achieve.”

— Ashley Vanderpan

Care Partner Stories

2023 VF CARE PARTNER

Douglas Ducat

Nominated by Wife

“Patience and a positive attitude can carry you through a tough time.”

— Doug Ducat

2023 VF CARE PARTNER

Marie Horowitz

Nominated by Husband

“My mantra: Brave, calm, strong, and optimistic.”

— Marie Horowitz

2023 VF CARE PARTNER

David Howe

Nominated by Wife

“Live every day to support your partner suffering with vasculitis as they did not choose this.”

— David Howe

2023 VF CARE PARTNER

Lawrence May

Nominated by Wife

“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

— Philippians 4:13

2023 VF CARE PARTNER

Bob Nye

Nominated by Wife

Being a care partner is all about love! Vasculitis changed many of our plans and made life much more complex. Love led me to be a more supportive care partner to my wife.

— Bob Nye

Thank you to our Community Heroes sponsor!

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