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Providing Answers, Support and Hope in Florida
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Community Ambassadors

The Lupus Foundation of America, Florida Chapter's (LFAFL) Ambassador Program's mission is to raise awareness of lupus by sharing personal stories and information about lupus and LFAFL to targeted audiences, contributing to earlier diagnosis, proper treatment, and improved prognosis for those affected by this disease. Ambassadors also increase awareness about the programs and services of the LFAFL and enable us to better serve the estimated 100,000 Florida residents living with lupus and those that care about them. 

Valori Corral Nava, Miami

Born and raised in El Paso as a Bordertown Latinx, I have dedicated my life to empowering and advocating for the rights of marginalized and diverse communities. In May 2018, just months before I was to start my final year at the University of Miami School of Law, I was diagnosed with Lupus SLE. Despite battling the cruel mystery, I have since graduated and passed the Bar exam. I want to advocate for those in the lupus community who need it the most. In so doing, I hope to empower each Lupus Warrior and their supporters to find their own voices while advocating for their healthcare needs in every aspect of their life, whether it be with healthcare providers, at school, or in the workplace.

Teresa Cobb, Tamarac

10 years ago I was diagnosed with Lupus and had no idea it would mean sitting in a chair every month with an I.V. in my arm, countless tests, and doctor appointments. I want to be a part of discovering a cure for Lupus. I don’t want to sit on the sidelines watching what is happening. I’d rather be a part of the solution and work to help advocate for myself and the 100,000 Floridians that suffer with this cruel disease. I’ve learned to be an advocate for my own healthcare with my team of doctors. I’m constantly talking about Lupus and letting people know what it is and about the wonderful progress we’re making in the fight against Lupus. I dream that one day, there will be a cure for this mysterious disease that affects so many people and until then I want to help spread awareness, understanding and help others navigate this disease. Lastly, I want to advocate for African Americans to participate in clinical trials because there is not enough of us willing to participate but we need to be a part of finding a cure.

Lourdes Garcia, Miami

I am a marketing, advertising manager & entrepreneur executive with over 28 years of experience, specializing in the US Hispanic market. I am on the Advisory Board for Florida State University, Center for Hispanic Communications and serve as mentor for students at the university. My mother is a lupus patient and I just discovered I have a positive ANA. I'm always talking to people about lupus. So many Hispanics are not aware of this disease, even though it effects women of color more frequently, because nobody is reaching out enough in Spanish. I'm a communicator and I feel that the best way to reach out is in our language. I'm fully bilingual and I think I can help so many like my mom that have this disease.

Elizabeth Vandervort, Tallahassee

I am an EMT at our level 2 trauma center in Tallahassee and a recent grad from Florida State University. I have been a lupus awareness supporter since my mom was diagnosed when I was in high school. I plan to continue my journey as an ambassador during my years in medical school and as a physician. With my mom in mind, I founded the first college campus lupus club called kNOw LUPUS at FSU. This club educates students about lupus while creating a safe place for those who are battling it. I am not done fighting for a cure.

Kristin Brittain, West Palm Beach

I have been struggling with lupus since a young child. I vividly remember the first instance that I knew something was wrong at around 8. Fast forward several years and misdiagnoses, I finally had an answer: lupus. For several years I hid my diagnosis and tucked myself away during flare-ups. I experienced times of remission and times of extreme, life-thwarting occurrences where lupus would take hold of every aspect of my existence. It wasn’t until I was in college that I decided that I needed to do something and that I didn’t need to feel like it was something that had to be hidden. How could people understand if there wasn’t enough awareness? That is why I decided to go into adult education and do my dissertation for my PhD on how to help individuals cope with chronic illnesses such as lupus. I want to be part of the movement of garnering awareness.

Chance Schwartz, Jacksonville

Being a professional athlete and a Paramedic for over 20 years, I feel that I have a great platform to share my story with others and help bring awareness to our cause. As a professional physique athlete, I also want to help shine a light on health and fitness with lupus and to let others know that you do not have to give up on your goals just because of this disease. Having a medical background really helped me be my own advocate when I was being overlooked and misdiagnosed by doctors and I can use that experience to help other lupus patients advocate for themselves. And for those who can’t speak for themselves, I would love to be their voice.

Beverly Minniefield, Lakeland

I was diagnosed in 2009 with systemic lupus erythematosus. I have not allowed the disease to defeat me and don’t want others to feel defeated. There is a need for more of us that suffer with lupus every day to share our stories. There are more and more individuals being diagnosed each day with lupus, they are lost and feel they have no one to understand their pain or issues. I want to help by raising awareness and offering support to caregivers as well who may not know the best ways to assist their loved one living with lupus.

Beccah Wallace, Naples

I was diagnosed with Lupus SLE on March 27, 2019 after an 8 year long health journey filled with a lot of frustration and extreme pain. When I first started showing signs of my illness at age 18, my primary care physician spoke to me about possibly having Lupus. She immediately referred me to a rheumatologist who ended up not giving me the time of day. He told me that, "I looked healthy" and "was too young for an autoimmune disease". That was 8 years ago, it could have changed my life if he would have just listened to me. So now that I am diagnosed, I want to encourage others to pursue their own diagnosis. You know your body best and you deserve for someone to listen. I want to be a shoulder to lean on for others who are going through the diagnosis process and feel like their voice are not being heard. We all have different stories and we all are in different points of our stories, but we are all on one path together so let’s fight it together!

Amy Volpigno, Bradenton

My fiancée has had lupus for 16 years and most recently has suffered from kidney failure, dysautonomia and adrenal insufficiency. We are both big supporters of the research and advocacy that the LFA is part of. We have participated and walks and other events to help us get closer to a cure. As a caregiver and advocate for lupus patients I want to be a voice for those who are suffering with the lack of proper treatment, education, and resources.