February has been a good month for The J.A.M.I.E. Group and different efforts in meningitis advocacy. On February 13th, our nonprofit held a fundraiser at Austin Beerworks and raised over $12,000 ($2k over our goal!) for meningitis awareness and prevention. It was a huge success! As we pulled up to the brewery, it was midday and it was already packed! ABW provided a tent for us, and we provided a bunch of items to bid on. A special thanks to all of the Austin local business that donated towards our cause, especially Austin Beerworks. The success of the event wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for them, and for that we are grateful. The revenue that has been generated will help our efforts to prevent meningitis in any way. This month, we’ll be working hard on updating educational tools and also, we will be solidifying details on a potential vaccine clinic for meningitis vaccinations for the summer by the end of the month. Definitely stay tuned for those details.
As of this past month, I have signed a contract with GlaxoSmithKline, a global pharmaceutical company, and one of the main vaccines that they distribute are the meningitis vaccines. A week ago, the company flew my sister and I out to London. There, we were able to experience the beautiful side of London, and it was my first time being there! We had a blast doing all of the tourist activities, but I had a better time visiting and meeting all of the people from GSK. I met so many vital people to company, such as the person who actually created the meningitis B vaccine (Meningitis has 5 main serogroups, 4 out of the 5 have been covered for a decade with a vaccine, except for the serogroup meningitis B – this is new), the people who move and distribute the vaccines all over the world, and more importantly, the chairman of vaccines at GSK Moncef Slaoui. In London, GSK held a multiday convention for numerous GSK employees from all over the world; From Argentina, Italy, Belgium, Greece, Canada, South Africa, and many many more. On their final day, I was able to share my story on how I survived a vaccine preventable disease. On the stage with me was Moncef. We were both seated toward the 300+ audience and Moncef did a motivational interview of me in front everyone. I have to admit that it was my first time in a while that I got nervous. Despite the nerves, I believe I executed my presentation and received a standing ovation.
In March, South by Southwest takes over Austin for a 10-day international festival that covers interactive media, music, and film and this year I will be apart of it with GSK! I never thought I would be involved with such an organization, and I’m excited to present. I’ll be at the JW Marriott on March 11th from 6-8pm this Friday. While I know badge holders will be the only ones that are able to be admitted, I highly encourage those that have them to stop by and enjoy.
Lots of moving pieces are occurring, but so is this movement in meningitis advocacy.
Be sure to check out my photos from the fundraiser and London on our photos page.