Inspired By a Meningitis Survivor
Jan 03, 2013

I typically look forward to the celebration of the New Year. It’s a time when I try to recommit myself to goals that will bring about positive changes in my life. And while I don’t declare a laundry list of personal resolutions, I do spend time considering how my individual efforts can help better both myself, and the world I live in. This is what brings me hope at the start of every new year.
Unfortunately, this year I’ve been crippled with a feeling of insignificance as I witness a great deal of suffering in this world. People I know, and many I don’t, are dealing with serious mental and physical health challenges, financial turmoil and various other obstacles that are keeping them from living full and happy lives. As I see these problems extend throughout the country and even the world, I feel hopeless, even powerless, to help.  And for the past few weeks I have found it difficult to be optimistic.
So, as I sat down at my computer today I wondered where I would gather my inspiration. A few moments later I came across a story that immediately brought me perspective and gave me hope. It’s  a story that reminds me that we’re not defined by what happens to us, but by how we respond in the face of adversity.
Doing something in hopes of making a small change in our worldmay just mean a world of change to someone we may not even know.
KBontherunI would like to introduce you to Krystle Beauchamp. She has launched KB On the Run in hopes that people will visit her website and feel “a little more enriched, educated, and inspired to challenge yourself and the world around you.”  She is responsible for turning my spirits around today and I wish her much success.
Krystle is a meningitis survivor who is very focused and determined to raise awareness about the seriousness of bacterial meningitis, the importance of knowing the symptoms and becoming vaccinated, and the critical need that exists for further research into developing a cure for this aggressive disease. Now, nine years after her personal battle with bacterial meningitis, Krystle has made a pledge to walk/run/sprint/skip 100,000 steps for meningitis during the month of January. She explains,

“I’m a very lucky girl. So many others have lost limbs, sight, hearing, and have had their bodies altered in so many irreparable ways. I’m so blessed that all of my aftereffects were temporary and able to be corrected after time and treatment. I’m dedicated to spending my time and talents making sure that others know about this aggressive disease and don’t make the mistakes that I did–and that starts with awareness and vaccination.”

Meningococcal disease (or bacterial meningitis) is a serious, potentially fatal bacterial infection that strikes an average of 1,500 Americans annually. In particular, adolescents and young adults are at increased risk of contracting bacterial meningitis, compared to the general population, and they typically account for nearly 15 % of all U.S. cases annually.  However, the majority of cases among adolescents may be vaccine-preventable.
Krystle’s site goes on to explain that there are two kinds of meningitis vaccines in the U.S., both of which can prevent four types of meningococcal disease, including two of the three types most common in the U.S., as well as a type that causes epidemics in Africa. Currently, the CDC recommends a meningococcal vaccine for all children ages 11-18, as well as younger high-risk children, anyone who has been exposed to meningitis during an outbreak, anyone traveling to or living where meningitis is common, military recruits, and people with certain immune system disorders or a damaged or missing spleen.
For more detailed information about meningitis, including symptoms and prevention, visit the National Meningitis Association website.  I also encourage you to follow Krystle’s journey on her blog, leave her an encouraging note, or even DONATE to the cause!

Reading her personal story today has reminded me that we all have a story that lies within us.  Even if we haven’t suffered in the same way, our own individual challenges have made us smarter and stronger, and can each be used as the inspiration we need to make a difference in the world around us.  As we begin a new year, my wish is that we all find a way, no matter how small, that we can continue to bring about positive changes in our lives and in the lives of others.

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