York City. May 12th, 2009. The
illustrious Rainbow Room at Rockefeller
Center in the heart of New York City was
the perfect location for the first ever
“Give Kids a Shot” benefit gala for The
National Meningitis Association, (NMA).
Lainie Kazan, star of film, TV, and stage
set the tone for the evening as she sang hit
after hit including; ‘Somewhere over the
Rainbow’, an appropriate choice for the
event in many ways. Master of Ceremonies
was Richard Thomas, the beloved “John Boy”
from The Walton’s.
Receiving the NMA Humanitarian Award were
Dr. Nancy Snyderman, Chief Medical Editor of
NBC News and Dr. Paul Offit, Chief of the
Division of Infectious Diseases and the
Director of the Vaccine Education Center at
the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Nancy Ford Springer Inspiration Award
recipients were the heroes of the evening;
Melanie Benn, John Kach, and Nick Springer.
They are all meningitis survivors who have
overcome amazing challenges in their lives.
an honor for me to Chair this event with
Gary Springer. The more I learned about the
effects of this tragic disease the more I
wanted to help. Gary and I met a few years
ago at The Hampton’s Film Festival. When he
told me his son Nick’s story it was
shocking. Later, I got to know Nick, Olivia
(Nick’s sister) and our beloved Nancy. They
were and still are a very strong close knit
family with an amazing appreciation for
life. When Nick won the gold medal in the
2008 Beijing Olympics for ‘Murderball’ with
team USA playing paralympic wheelchair rugby
we were elated. Only to have our thrill of
victory for Nick saddened at his mother
Nancy’s passing as he flew back from Beijing
to share his gold medal with her. As a
friend and as a human being, I asked myself,
what more can this family endure and why.
Some questions just as some experiences have
no answer. There is no answer why this
terrible disease inflicts certain people.
Bozof, the Executive Director of the
National Meningitis Association and one of
its original founders lost her son to
meningitis. In most cases death occurs in 24
hours of contracting meningococcal
meningitis if left untreated. It mimics the
flu, except for the symptom of a stiff neck.
Hearing the stories of the survivors of this
disease as well as the stories of loving
parents and family members who lost children
or relatives is heart wrenching. Our purpose
is to raise awareness that there is a
vaccine that can help prevent the spread of
this terrible disease.
Ford Springer was one of the original
founders of the NMA having dedicated her
life’s efforts to educating the public and
raising awareness about meningococcal
meningitis after her son Nick’s illness.
Gary and Nancy’s daughter Olivia was the
presenter of the awards named in her mothers
memory and honor. Nancy is greatly missed.
Her untimely death is a loss for many. Gary
thanked everyone for coming as he held Nancy
close to his heart. Nick made reference to
the rainbow outside earlier in the evening
as a symbol that his mother was watching
gala was very emotional. People pulled
together with a common goal: to raise
awareness and prevent this illness from
attacking another person. Families came from
many states, some with loved ones who have
survived and some in memory of those who
they lost. No words can describe the
feelings in the Rainbow Room. No words can
describe the pain and suffering this vaccine
preventable disease has caused.
very grateful for all the support we
received that helped make our event a
learn more about meningitis please visit:
by Sara Herbert-Galloway
by Steve Mack