Flu Fighters: Public Profiles
Every year individuals around the world work to study, track, and prevent flu. This page profiles these Flu Fighters and the work they are doing to contribute to flu prevention in the U.S. and around the world!
Meet flu fighter Madi Allen from Jacksonville, Illinois. Madi is a junior board member for Families Fighting Flu, a nonprofit organization dedicate to protecting children, families, and communities against the flu. Madi promotes the importance of getting a flu vaccine by sharing her story about being hospitalized with flu at age 12.
Meet flu fighter Shelle Allen, who is dedicating much of her time these days to educating others about the dangers of flu and the importance of annual flu vaccination.
Meet Samy Awwad, a junior board member of Families Fighting Fluexternal icon (FFF), a national nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to protecting children, families, and communities against flu. At age 15, Samy founded ImmuniGlobal, a nonprofit organization that works to stop the spread of infectious diseases.
Meet flu fighter Bethany Drapeau from Wagner, South Dakota, who lost her young daughter, Amiah, to flu in April 2017. Amiah was not vaccinated against the flu and Bethany now realizes that annual flu vaccination can significantly reduce a child’s chance of flu-related hospitalization and death. She now makes a point to educate her family, friends, and community about the seriousness of flu and the critical importance of annual flu vaccination for everyone, including healthy children and adults.
Meet flu fighter Donna Greyerbiehl of Ann Arbor, Michigan. For Donna, flu season is an especially scary time of year. Donna has a primary immunodeficiency disease called common variable immune deficiency (CVID). People with this disease have low levels of antibodies making it difficult to fight off germs like flu viruses. Compared to the general population, patients living with CVID and other diseases that can result in a weakened immune system are at an increased risk during flu season.
Reverend Dr. Terris A. King
Meet flu fighter, Rev. Dr. Terris King, a retired 30-year government health care worker and a pastor at a church in Baltimore with over 300 congregants. He’s helping lead a coalition to inform and educate Baltimore’s African American residents about the importance of getting a flu shot. The Rev. Dr. King, along with others, started a program that makes vaccination easily accessible at churches to make it as simple as possible for people in the community to get vaccinated.
Meet flu fighter, Henry Lin, a retired Navy veteran and bariatric surgeon at Eastern Maine Medical Center, who lost his seven-year-old son, Trevor, to flu in November 2009 during the H1N1 pandemic. In Trevor’s honor, Henry shares his family’s story with others to help illustrate the potential dangers of flu and the importance of vaccination. He is also working with colleagues to help improve health care guidelines for treatment of children with flu in an effort to help prevent other families from experiencing a similar tragedy.
Meet flu fighter Serese Marotta, who has made it her life’s work to educate others about the dangers of flu and the importance of annual flu vaccination following the loss of her healthy 5-year-old son, Joseph, to flu in October 2009 during the H1N1 pandemic. Serese spent five years as the Chief Operating Officer for Families Fighting Flu. In June 2021, she joined Vaccinate Your Familyexternal icon (VYF) as the Director of Community Outreach and Advocacy. VYF is an organization dedicated to protecting people of all ages from vaccine-preventable diseases, including influenza. Through sharing her son’s story and her tireless work on behalf of the Vaccinate Your Family organization, Serese hopes that others will realize that it’s not “just the flu”.
Amber and Irelynd McCarthy
Meet Flu Fighters Amber and Irelynd McCarthy. This mother-daughter duo are board members for Families Fighting Flu (FFF), a nonprofit advocacy organization where they are committed to flu education and prevention.
Meet flu fighter Chris Miller from Westfield, New Jersey, whose family was significantly impacted following his daughter, Caroline’s, flu-related hospitalization in December 2013. While Caroline was hospitalized, Chris made a promise to help make sure no other family has to experience the potential loss of a child to flu. He and his family now share their story to illustrate the seriousness of flu and help raise awareness by working with Families Fighting Fluexternal icon.
Meet flu fighter Jennifer Pool Miller. Jennifer was completely caught off guard by the seriousness of flu when her healthy 5-year-old went from being her high energy, effervescent self to needing intensive care.
Meet flu fighter, Katie Miller from Basking Ridge, New Jersey. Katie became involved with Families Fighting Flu (FFF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting children, families, and communities against flu, when she was in middle school.
Meet flu fighter JoJo O’Neal, a radio host in Orlando. Diagnosed with asthma in 2004, her mission is to educate people about asthma and help patients learn how to breathe and live better with the condition, which includes getting an annual flu shot. In 2018 the flu knocked her out of action twice in one year, and she learned that asthma and the flu can be a dangerous combination. Now JoJo is working with the American Lung Association as a spokesperson for the MyShot campaign, educating adults 50 years of age and older about the importance of an annual flu vaccine.
Meet flu fighter Jim Piette, a woodworker, Midwestern dad and grandad. Fishing and hunting remained big parts of Jim’s life following his COPD diagnosis, but everything changed when he came down with the flu. He was home for five weeks, didn’t eat because he couldn’t breathe, became extremely weak and lost 35 pounds. He always had trouble breathing, but now he can’t do much without running out of air. This is why Jim is working with the American Lung Association as a spokesperson for the MyShot campaign, which educates adults 50 years of age and older about the potential complications from flu.
Meet Eric Stein, a Junior Board member of Families Fighting Fluexternal icon (FFF), a national nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to protecting children, families, and communities against flu.
Meet flu fighter Gary Stein from Falls Church, Virginia, who after losing his four-year-old daughter, Jessica, to flu in February 2002, helped form Families Fighting Fluexternal icon in an effort to raise awareness about the seriousness of flu and the importance of annual flu vaccination. In 2002, annual flu vaccination was not recommended for healthy children of Jessica’s age. Gary’s advocacy, along with the help of the Families Fighting Flu organization and others, eventually led to the successful change in recommendation that now includes everyone six months and older.
Meet flu fighter Angie Wehrkamp from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, who lost her healthy, two-year-old daughter, Gianna, to flu in January 2015. She never realized how dangerous flu could be and now works to raise awareness about the importance of annual flu vaccination through her work with the Sioux Falls Immunization Coalition, Families Fighting Fluexternal icon, and her personal project Gianna’s Trees. Angie hopes that by sharing her story she can help prevent others from experiencing a similar tragedy.
Are you a flu fighter, or know someone who is? Share your own flu fighter profiles online or social media. Here’s how:
- Pick 1-3 images demonstrating your work as a flu fighter.
- Write a 2-4 sentence post about why you fight flu.
- Share these images and message on social media!
Be sure to include the hashtag #WhyIFightFlu or #FightFlu and tag @CDCFlu in your post!