Our Journeys

PHAmerica Honors Essays

Elise Firestone

"Coping with a disease like this isn’t an easy thing to do, but it’s important to never give up, because I truly believe that one-day there will be a cure."

- Elise Firestone

"Always Live Your Dreams, and Never Give Up"

Growing up as a competitive dancer and staying in top physical shape is what first lead me into the gym. It was there that I developed a passion for fitness and health. At the age of 19, I faced with my own personal triumphs with battling a life threatening disease called pulmonary hypertension. I am extremely lucky to able to do what I can do today with being fit and active. I share my story with others in hopes to inspire those to stay fit and healthy. I try my best to help educate others who are unfamiliar with this scary disease.

Having been diagnosed at such a young age, I have never let it stop me from achieving my dreams. My dream has always been to step up onstage in a fitness competition and I accomplished that. In 2005, I competed in my first figure competition. Since then I became the 2008 World Natural Bodybuilding Federation (WNBF) Best Body swimsuit winner, a semifinalist at the 2008/2009 Miss Connecticut /Miss USA pageant. In 2009, I was the 1st place winner at the NY Mets in the Bikini division, as well as holding the 2nd place title at the Fitness Atlantic Pageant.

EliseToday, I own my own part-time business where I travel to bodybuilding and fitness shows and provide onsite services for both men and women, which includes airbrush tanning and makeup artistry, hair styling, poise and presentation, as well as makeup for proms, weddings and other special events. I love what I do and feel so fortunate to be able to combine my two favorite things: beauty and fitness. I have a line of makeup and I even have a very special lip gloss color where 20% of the proceeds go toward research to help find a cure for pulmonary hypertension.

Being diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension has only pushed me harder to follow all my dreams. I don't let it stop me. If anything I use it to motivate me even more. Coping with a disease like this isn't an easy thing to do, but it's important to never give up, because I truly believe that one-day there will be a cure.

XOXO Elise

For more information, please visit my website at



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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.