2010 Award Winner Profile

Huff and Puff posterDonna Caterini

Hershey and Harrisburg (Penn.)
Support Group Leader

Lantos Award Turned My Dream into Reality


One day while visiting my sisters, our dogs began panting with anticipation of the mailman’s imminent arrival. My sister said, “They’re huffing and puffing. That must be what the Big Bad Wolf was doing.” The thought then hit me that I huff and puff all the time because of my pulmonary hypertension. Being a professional communicator, I realized I had just struck gold. Why not use the Big Bad Wolf’s image on a poster to spread the word about this disease? I knew the Wolf’s likeness would draw the attention of passersby.

So I gave the wolf a canister of portable oxygen and a bedraggled look to show how PH had sapped his energy. The Three Little Pigs appeared carefree because they knew the wolf could not harm them anymore.

The members of my support group — which serves the Hershey/Harrisburg area of Pennsylvania — not only liked the idea of the poster as a November Awareness Month project, but suggested that the poster could be put to good use to promote PHA support groups. So I included space at the bottom of the poster for a support group’s name and contact number, and the poster became one that could be used nationwide.

Once I learned about the Lantos awards program, it became very easy to turn the idea of the poster into reality. After just a couple hours of my time completing the application and calling printers for estimates, my request for funding was ready and in the hands of PHA’s Lantos Grants review board. I worried that the committee would have questions or wouldn’t accept my application because some vital piece of information was missing. But I was assured by PHA’s Senior Vice President Adrienne Dern that the committee was working with applicants to understand their requests fully and wouldn’t simply reject an application because it “wasn’t done right.”

Imagine my excitement when I learned that not only had I been selected to receive the grant, but that PHA and the grant committee loved the suggestion to make quantities of the poster available to PHA’s more than 230 support groups. And I was pleased that PHA wanted the poster available in time for distribution to support group leaders at PHA’s International Conference in June.

My portion of the work was done on a volunteer basis, but the grant allowed me to provide a small stipend to the graphic artist who turned my idea into the colorful and attractive poster you see here, and sufficient funds to produce 5,000 copies. PHA is so excited about the poster, it’s making them available as a free item in its online store for anyone who wants to spread the word about PH in their community. Visit the PHA online store to request copies.

Finally, I was thrilled to hear from PHA’s Director of Volunteer Services Debbie Castro that the posters were being enthusiastically snatched up at PHA’s Conference. Now let’s hope the posters do their trick of telling the story of PH and its symptoms, and of providing information about PHA and its local support groups, so that more people can be diagnosed early and live happily ever after!

 

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NORD

The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) awarded PHA the Abbey S. Meyers Leadership Award in 2012 for outstanding service to PHA members in advocacy, education and other key areas.