Is making an impact difficult or scary or time-consuming?
Though the answer is often yes, that didn’t stop this year’s group of extraordinarily selfless teens who were recognized by the National Hemophilia Foundation (NHF) at its annual Teen Impact Awards. In spite of their bleeding disorders, 58 teens from across the Americas took action, spoke up and led by example in their communities – together defining what it means to make an impact.
The hybrid virtual event, hosted by Patrick James Lynch, was part of NHF’s Bleeding Disorders Conference in late August. The celebration followed the format of big-time award shows with a joke-cracking host, a red carpet, backstage correspondents and heart-tugging moments. The diverse teens excel in service and volunteerism, advocacy, leadership, arts, athletics and academics.
Using your voice
“We need to speak up for ourselves,” said Jackson Loving from Batavia, Ohio, who lives with hemophilia A.
At 13, Loving already has visited the Ohio Statehouse and Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., where he speaks to legislators about hemophilia awareness. He testified for House Bill 185 to recognize March as Bleeding Disorder Awareness Month.
Finding comfort with Medi Teddy
Living with chronic immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), 14-year-old Ella Casano from Fairfield, Connecticut, relies on regular IV infusions. But seeing yourself connected to an IV can be a traumatic experience, Casano said. That’s why she invented Medi Teddy.
“Medi Teddy is a stuffed animal IV bag cover,” Casano said. “The whole process of getting an IV infusion can be really intimidating for a patient. Medi teddy covers that bag of medicine to ensure that a patient just sees a friendly stuffed animal rather than that bag of blood or medication.”
She wants her accomplishment, which includes founding a nonprofit, to motivate others.
“I hope to inspire other kids to take what's not as fortunate for them and really turn it around, learn from it and use it to help other people,” she said.
Creating a virtual world
Tired of Zoom meetings, 17-year-old Benjamin Pethe of Metairie, Louisiana wanted to find a new way to connect with his peers and other patients attending NHF’s online camp. He used a platform called Gather to create an alternative online meeting space, where teens can meet and communicate as avatars.
“We're going to be the next generation that's going to be in charge of things and running things,” he said. “It's also good to help others that are going through the same struggles that you're going through.”
Find out more about this year’s event and other winners.