Announcing the 2021 Patient Heroes

Ordinary people can become extraordinary in their journey through life — and this has never been truer than it is today. Look around and you’ll see that there are everyday heroes living among us. That’s why this Vasculitis Awareness Month, the VF will be highlighting a few of the many everyday heroes from our vasculitis community during our first-ever Patient Heroes project.

Earlier this year, we asked for patient 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 10 of the nominees’ personal stories that will be told through collectible baseball-type trading cards that will be used to increase awareness throughout the greater vasculitis community.

Patient Hero Stories: The Top 10

Ordinary People – Everyday Heroes. When faced with a diagnosis, the road ahead may look scary. But that’s when our vasculitis patients 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.


"It's not what happens to us that defines us, it's how we 'choose' to respond to what happens to us that defines us."
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" You are a warrior.
Not because you won,
but because you keep
fighting every single day."
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“With God all things are possible.”
— Matthew 19:26
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“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” — Maya Angelou
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“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
— Christopher Robin
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“Courage is grace under pressure”
— Ernest Hemingway
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"Always have HOPE in hard times, meaning Having Only Positive Expectations."
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“If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.
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“It’s ok to be scared, that’s what makes you brave!”
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“Only in the darkness can you see the stars.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr.
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“Every day I am inspired by the determination of our patients of all ages. From the 8-year-old giving a class presentation on GPA to the 88-year-old reassuring her family that she’s going to be alright. They are all heroes in my book.”
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"Why not a cure?"
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Patient Hero Stories: Honorable Mention

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes — some don’t even wear capes at all — but what they all have in common is a certain bravery and willingness to help others. Their end-goal is not just to overcome their disease but to make a difference in their community. This type of thinking is what gives people hope. Join us in celebrating all of the heroes in our lives.

Katrina Bargender

Katrina Bargender

EGPA/Takayasu’s Arteritis – 2016

Keelin Basson

Keelin Basson

GPA – 2019

Kaley Beins

Kaley Beins

GPA – 2014

Colleen Brick

Colleen Brick

GPA – 2018

Richard Carney

Richard Carney

GPA – 2012

Renee Depaoli

Renee Depaoli

GPA – 2016

Tara Douglas

Tara Douglas

GPA – 2020

brandon hudgins

Brandon Hudgins

GPA – 2007/8

Gabriela Martinez

Gabriela Martinez

GPA – 2019

Ann Marie Niziolek

Ann Marie Niziolek

GPA – 2013

Sandy Nye

Sandy Nye

MPA – 2014

Cindy Orlandi

Cindy Orlandi

Takayasu Arteritis and Giant

Cell Arteritis – 2018

Grace Roach

Grace Roach

Leukocytoclastic Vasculitis – 2019

Krista Vetter

Krista Vetter

Behçet’s Disease – 2013

Emma Wallace

Emma Wallace

AAV, Anca Associated

Vasculitis – 2019

Not pictured:


Ernestine Adkins-Stephenson
Darlene Almeida
Wilana Figueroa
Kristina Marzinzik
Ashley Paradiso
Zineb Sailouh