Tamanika Zinger – Arizona
I am an Arizona transplant by way of Alaska. I was diagnosed with NMOSD in 2012. I have an amazing husband and am the mother of two wonderful boys ages 10 and 7. I look forward to meeting others, sharing about NMO, and raising money to find a cure.
Veronica Estrada – California
I am a single mom from California who works full time as a legal processing clerk in a juvenile court while raising her three sons, Isaiah, Elijah, and Nehemiah. A couple of weeks after turning 18 years old, my middle son, Elijah, fell sick and was diagnosed with NMO two weeks later. In efforts to raise awareness for neuromyelitis optica, I am both proud and honored to add NMO advocate to the many hats I already wear. I feel confident and hopeful that with the help of our family and friends, Elijah will never fight alone.
Andrea Mitchell – California (MOG)
I live in northern California and have a relapsing form of MOG-Ab disease since 2011. My passion is to educate, empower, promote advocacy and support others dealing with this rare condition. I enjoy helping those who are newly blind to find resources to gain back their independence. I am a volunteer for the Transverse Myelitis Association and conduct support group meetings in the San Francisco Bay Area. I am honored to be the 1st MOG ambassador for The Sumaira Foundation for NMO and look forward to raising awareness and raise funds to achieve our goals. I am happily married to James who is passionate about advocacy in the caregiver role. I have a beautiful guide dog named Newcastle.
Ashlee Olsen – Florida
I live in Florida with my husband and two amazing children. I was diagnosed with NMOSD in 2006 and since 2012, I’ve made it my mission to advocate for and educate others in the community on neuromyelitis optica.
Tami Freeman – Michigan
I live in Lake Orion, Michigan with my two children, Wilson (17) and Katy (15). I am the mother of a child with NMO. My daughter, Katy, was diagnosed in August 2016 after a sudden onset of transverse myelitis causing paralysis. Due to her prompt diagnosis and diligent care, Katy is a healthy and thriving teenager! I am passionate about advocating for NMO awareness and a firm believer in maintaining a positive attitude and being persistent about the care and management of NMO. I’m forever grateful for the NMO community and so happy to give back to the people who have helped us along the way.
Lisa Kovanda – Nebraska (MOG)
I was adopted and raised by a Nebraska City couple. I am also an author, screenwriter/filmmaker, and public speaker. I live in Lincoln, Nebraska, and have four children, 13 grandchildren, and a very loved poochie named Andre. I have degrees in biology/chemistry, nursing, and a BA in medicine. Most of my adult life I worked in health care as an RN. I’m excited to be part of The Sumaira Foundation to be part of the search for better treatments and ultimately a cure for NMOSD, and to provide a support network for patients, caregivers, and medical providers.
Jamie Ahlawat – New Jersey
I live in New Jersey with my husband and my two kids. I was a paralegal for many years and had to stop working once I experienced my second relapse. My first attack was in January of 2018 and then again in July of 2019. It has been very hard to get through the pain and what comes along with having NMO but with the support of my family and friends, it’s been a little bit easier to stay positive.
Marie Abrego – New Mexico
I am 27 years old and live in New Mexico with my family. I was diagnosed with NMO in 2007. I have had some amazing people educate me on NMO and now it’s my turn to educate my community.
Nicole McLaud – New York
I am from upstate New York. In 2018, I was diagnosed with NMO after a significant transverse myelitis attack that was followed by very mild optic neuritis attacks over the course of three years. It struck me how isolating this condition can be, with little to no local community support, except for support groups for people with other and mostly more advanced diseases (such as progressive multiple sclerosis). It is my goal to raise awareness and get people involved. NMO should not be something that we haven’t heard of; it should be just as well-known as cancer, Alzheimer, ALS among others.
Leah Campbell – Oklahoma
At the age of 10, Leah began losing her vision due to optic neuritis. When her vision finally stabilized over a year later, she was nearly completely blind. She was misdiagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She graduated salutatorian of Altus High School in her hometown of Altus, OK. She went on to graduate with a BA in Mathematics from Rhodes College in Memphis, TN in May 2001. She became a quadriplegic overnight after receiving a chemotherapy to treat her aggressive MS and 5 years later was accurately diagnosed with neuromyelitis optica. With proper treatment, she has been relapse-free for nearly 13 years and now resides in Mustang, OK. Leah has made tremendous progress in the last year through occupational, physical, aquatic and equine therapies. Additionally, Leah has spent countless hours focused on evaluating in-home Smart technologies that address her specific quality of life requirements. She has in-depth firsthand knowledge of “voice command” applications and what does and does not work. She maintains ongoing technical conversations providing feedback to Smart technology providers. She is the ambassador for Oklahoma for The Sumaira Foundation for NMO and is passionate about advocating, fundraising and raising awareness for NMO.
Diane Schlegel – Pennsylvania
I am a married mother of twin daughters living in Erie, Pennsylvania. I was diagnosed with MOG+ NMOSD in February, 2018 after optic neuritis in August, 2017 and Transverse Myelitis in January 2018. I am a registered nurse working as the Clinical Manager for an Adult Skilled Nursing home care office, as well as performing private contracting home infusion services for patients who require specialty medications. I’ve served as a Government Affairs Ambassador in my nursing role and am very passionate and personal calling to advocate for and serve my patients, our community, and the NMO family. Through increasing advocacy, outreach, and awareness, I hope to help raise the bar for timely diagnosis of NMO, allow care to reach all of those who seek it in whatever capacity they require, and widen the network of resources available to all of those affected by NMOSD.
Chelsey Tucker – Tennessee
With a passion for positivity and living my best life, I am a Nashville native and mom of 5. I am best known in my community for both my artistry and work within the local foster care and adoption community. Diagnosed with NMO in February 2019, I am dedicated to patient advocacy and committed to raising awareness to find a cure NMO.