Each year the Scleroderma Foundation recognizes the outstanding achievements by dedicated individuals and hard working chapters that helped advance the Scleroderma Foundation's mission during the preceding year. The following honorees have demonstrated unwavering commitment to the Scleroderma Foundation’s mission of support, education, and research, and we are deeply grateful for their passion and good works.
2020 Award Recipients
Philanthropists of the Year
The 2020 Philanthropists of the Year award is proudly presented to Karen and Bruce Bittmann in recognition of their outstanding efforts to advance the mission of the Scleroderma Foundation through philanthropy. “Scleroderma affected my life, my sister’s life, and my father’s, who raised us as a single parent after my mother passed away,” said Bruce, who was five years old at the time his mother died from scleroderma. His sister was nine. “Funding attracts the researchers; it’s only natural.” Karen added, “As we get older and feel more vulnerable, we want to know more about our medical backgrounds. We’re motivated to leave a better, healthier world for our kids and grandkids. A cure to scleroderma would do that. Research is the key.” In addition to their major gifts, the couple has participated in Stepping Out to Cure Scleroderma walks in Denver for several years accompanied by their rescue dog, Sarah Zona.
National Volunteer of the Year
The 2020 National Volunteer of the Year award is proudly presented to Amy Gietzen. Amy partnered with the Scleroderma Foundation to create and facilitate an online community forum (Inspire SuperStarz) to allow young adults living with scleroderma to connect and offer support for their journey living with a rare disease. In 2019, Amy coordinated stronger connections online by sharing her perspectives and starting meaningful conversations with this group. Young adults regardless of location can now connect and offer mutual support. Congratulations, Amy!
National Support Group Volunteer of the Year
Barb Frodin's journey to become a scleroderma support group leader started to honor the memory of her best friend by helping her friend’s daughter, Sandee, newly diagnosed with scleroderma. As co-leader, Barb stepped in when Sandee had health setbacks to keep the Denver group going. Deeply involved, Barb ultimately joined the Rocky Mountain chapter board in 2018. She overcame her tech struggles to incorporate “JoinMe” and PowerPoint presentations for speakers. She continued group email and phone communications in between meetings, and held the summer picnic on her own. Barb also mentored the new Southern Colorado support group leader and even attended several meetings in Colorado Springs. Always learning, Barb was one of the first to register for SPIN-SLEDD training. Congratulations, Barb!
Chapter Volunteer of the Year: Sheryl Bishop
Sheryl Bishop has been a dedicated volunteer for almost 20 years. In addition to being a fundraising champion, she manages the chapter’s social media posts, ensuring that they engage the scleroderma community. She raises awareness from getting her hometown to declare June as Scleroderma Awareness Month, to securing billboard space to promote scleroderma awareness, to being the loudest cheerleader at the Southern California Chapter’s awareness event at The Price Is Right. Thank you, Sheryl!
Outstanding Education Program: South Carolina Chapter
The 2020 Outstanding Education Program is awarded to a chapter that recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of its outstanding annual event named for the chapter’s founding president. Highlights include a tour by Carol Feghali-Bostwick, Ph.D., of her research lab and some serious southern hospitality. For these and many more reasons, the South Carolina Chapter’s Annual Amy K. Parrish Patient Education Conference is awarded the 2020 Outstanding Education Program.
Outstanding National Advocate: Demeshia Montgomery
The 2020 National Advocate of the Year award recipient is never short on creative ideas to raise awareness to advance the Foundation's legislative priorities forward. Active at the local, state, and national levels, she was the driving force behind efforts to secure state awareness proclamations in every state. It was her comments during national advocacy committee meetings that helped refocus our messaging to link awareness and advocacy in new ways. The 2020 National Advocate of the Year is Demi Montgomery of the Ohio Chapter.
Outstanding Patient Support: Michigan Chapter
The recipient of the 2020 Outstanding Chapter Patient Support award goes to the chapter that embraced virtual education long before it became a necessity. By supplementing in-person patient education with a variety of webinars, they fulfilled their goal to have a greater reach for patients and caregivers. Their outreach includes identification and support efforts of the psycho-social needs, specialized pediatric programming, and male-related disease specific complications. The Michigan Chapter is well deserving of this year’s Outstanding Chapter Patient Support award.
Outstanding Chapter Awareness: Tri-State Chapter
The recipient of the 2020 Outstanding Chapter Awareness award consistently keeps awareness and advocacy as integral parts of their communication and outreach. They maintain a strong presence in community events and health fairs throughout the chapter region. With a long history of creating and sharing excellent content, staff member Candice Snider upped their game over the last year with an amazing social media presence with very engaging content. Congratulations to the Tri-State Chapter as the recipient of the 2020 Outstanding Chapter Awareness award.
Chapter of the Year Award: Texas Bluebonnet Chapter
The Chapter of the Year Award recognizes overall excellence in advancing the mission of the Scleroderma Foundation. This year’s recipient has faced difficult challenges and obstacles and persevered to remain focused on our shared mission. The chapter has an active presence throughout its region with support groups, education events, and effective advocacy efforts. Congratulations to the Texas Bluebonnet Chapter.
For more information about the annual awards, please contact the Scleroderma Foundation’s national office: (800) 722-HOPE (4763).