When Katie Dama Jaskoski and her sister Allie Dama were both diagnosed as "Zebras" (those with rare, chronic, often invisible diseases) they decided to take their experience and passion and try to help others.
What started as a simple fundraiser to raise money and awareness, turned into the Life as a Zebra Foundation (LAAZF). The foundation raises funds and awareness for those suffering from Dysautonomia, Ehlers-Danlos Sybdrome, or Vasculitis. All of these can be debilitating diseases but often invisible and almost impossible to diagnose.
The foundation's most recent accomplishment was a trip to Washington DC to speak with congressional leaders about starting a national day of awareness. The LAAZF was triumphant on the state level in May of 2014 when the Michigan senate unanimously adapted Invisible Illness Awareness Week. "Everyone on both sides was supportive," says Katie Dama, "So we decided to shoot for the National level." Now, after a successful series of meetings in DC with Senators Mike Rogers, Debbie Stabenow and many more, all the LAAZF can do is wait.
In the meantime, their team is growing and Dama says, "Different doors are opening." They have expanded their board of directors and picked up an advisory board, and a legislative advisor. "It's just a matter of educating the community and finding backers for the foundation."
Source: Katie Dama Jaskoski, Co-Founder
?Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovation New Editor