Today, I am so excited to feature Shot@Life Champion Sarah of Finnegan and The Hughes as part of Shot@Life’s #BirthdayBash. I know Sarah through Philly Social Media Moms, and followed her amazing project collecting handmade hats for Hurricane Sandy victims. Sarah is also the walk volunteers coordinator for the Preeclampsia Foundation which works to improve diagnosis, management, and prevention of preeclampsia through research and improved health care practices.
Shot@Life works to protect children worldwide by providing life-saving vaccines where they are most needed. Many children in developing countries lack access to vaccines often because they live in hard-to-reach communities and are among the most marginalized members of the community. Let’s help them get the vaccines they need during World Immunization Week!
How did you hear about Shot@Life?
I had heard of Shot@Life from World Moms Blog founder Jen Burden. I had seen WMB post about it, and that she was a Champion. I was automatically intrigued by the movement when I heard about it. How could you not be? It’s not a vaccine debate; it’s an access issue and giving global mothers access to vaccines.
Every 20 seconds a child dies of a vaccine-preventable disease.
Why did you get involved?
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, I coordinated a handmade hat collection for displaced families. Jen Burden was helping me get the hats where they were needed. I was at her house, and she asked if I had any interest in applying to become a Shot@Life Champion. I was originally shocked, totally into it, but surprised she had thought of me.
Although I am the walk volunteers coordinator for the Preeclampsia Foundation and have a huge interest in infant and maternal health, Shot@Life seemed so hugely global that I hadn’t seen myself as part of something so big. When I got in the car and told my husband what Jen had asked, he looked at me and said “I guess this means you’re doing it.” He knew there was no way on earth I would turn down such an amazing opportunity. I applied to become a Champion and was accepted to attend the 2013 Shot@Life Champion Summit this past February in Washington, D.C.
What have you done over the past year to help spread the word about Shot@Life and the importance of expanding access to global vaccines?
I became a Champion in February of 2013. While in DC for the Summit, I advocated for global vaccines on Capitol Hill with other Champions, and in one day, we visited a combined 100 offices of our members of Congress. I have spread the word to members of the press locally about my involvement in Shot@Life by doing some interviews. One interview with the University of Pennsylvania Newsletter helped me connect with the UNA-GP, Drexel School of Public Health as well as schools within Penn. We plan to bring Shot@Life on campus and to organize some fundraisers, movie viewings, and seminars together!!
How has being part of Shot@Life impacted you as a mom and as a blogger?
As a mother, Shot@Life has reminded me to slow down a bit. To enjoy and appreciate all the milestones my children are achieving. Just recently my 4 year old learned how to ride a bike without training wheels. I cried at his pride, excitement, and hard work. I cried because my baby would never use those training wheels again, and he would need to have balance to ride. I cried because children are dying every 20 seconds due to vaccine-preventative diseases, and their mothers will never get to see them ride a bike without training wheels.
Two of the most common causes of child death, pneumonia and diarrhea, can be largely prevented by existing vaccines.
Shot@Life has also made me see the world and my “problems” differently. It has made me complain less and appreciate more. As a blogger, it has made me much more aware of what I put out into the world. There are mothers that walk 3 whole days to get their children vaccinated so do I really want to post on Facebook complaining about an hour wait in my pediatricians waiting room, probably not. My friend Lisa of A Day In Our Shoes always refers to such things as first world problems, and she’s right!
Shot@Life has brought me back to reality (not that I think I was too far removed), but it’s just a reminder that I need to be a global mother and not just a local mother. I also feel so passionate about spreading the word of Social Good. No matter what the cause, if it’s Shot@Life, preeclampsia, ALSF and childhood cancer, or the Arthritis Foundation, if there is a way for me to blog about it in the hope of making just one more person aware, then I’m in!!
What’s your favorite birthday tradition as a kid? How do you like to
celebrate your children’s birthdays?
As a child, my birthday was at the end of the summer so I always loved to have a pool party! For my children’s birthdays, my husband and I take the day off work and take them on a special adventure for the day like an amusement park or something big and fun. We always throw a huge family and friends birthday party; let them choose a theme; and make it a huge celebration. We must enjoy and celebrate the wonderful milestones in life!!
What milestones did you experience with Shot@Life during their first year?
I think my biggest Shot@Life milestone so far was attending the DC Summit and meeting all the amazing Champions. To be able to connect with other inspiring, passionate, intelligent women (and some men) was amazing. I left that Summit on a mission to raise awareness of the need for global vaccines. I was also featured on the front page of the health section with an article about my visit and a photo of my children and I at the Summit. I call them my mini advocates.
Another thing about Shot@Life that I love is it’s something everyone can get on board with. My children are 2 and 4, and they both know all about mommy going to Washington D.C. for Shot@Life. Derek, my 4 year old, talks about how he and his mommy want to give kids all over the world “shots to be strong and healthy.” We have constant dialogue about how children globally don’t have access to the same things as he does. He, and his sister Hayley, are always trying to donate some toys or clothes to other children when we talk about the needs of others.
Shot@Life is helping me lead my child by example in a direction I would like them to follow. For them to one day stand up for movements they believe in and do what they can to help others.
What are you looking forward to as a Shot@Life Champion this year?
I look forward to advocating more for vaccine access. I hope to do my part in raising awareness and funds. To get people to pledge to stand behind, alongside. and with the Shot@Life Movement. You can take the pledge here.
What’s one thing you want people to know about vaccines?
The Shot@Life movement is NOT a vaccine debate issue; it’s a vaccine ACCESS issue. These mothers don’t have access to vaccines, and every twenty seconds a baby is dying of pneumonia, diarrhea, measles and polio. The number of children dying each year in developing countries of vaccine-preventable deaths is equal to half the amount of US children entering kindergarten. These children and their mothers need our voices. I’m proud to speak for global mothers!