Announcing the 9th Annual WEGO Health Awards Finalists


Announcing the 9th Annual WEGO Health Awards Finalists 1There are thousands of patients and caregivers sharing their stories, raising awareness, and guiding others through their own patient journey. Their endless work and energy to ensure no patient feels alone or lost is admirable and worthy of recognition. At WEGO Health, we believe these individuals are the key to solving healthcare’s biggest challenges and they deserved to be celebrated for their immense impact on the patient journey.

This is precisely why we created the WEGO Health Awards; to celebrate the patient leaders who are leading the online health community.

Year after year, we are truly blown away by the nominees and this year is certainly no different. We could not be more honored to celebrate these patient leaders across all conditions areas, platforms, and countries. With over 13,000 nominations, our 9th annual WEGO Health Awards season has been the biggest celebration yet.

We urge you to check out this year’s nominees, and you’ll quickly see the passion and power of these patient leaders. We hope this year’s nominees feel proud and validated that their work is making an impact. We truly thank each and every single one of you for your dedication to improving the patient experience and for being a shining light in your community. We are so very honored to celebrate your achievements!

Narrowing Down the Finalists

The three most endorsed nominees in each award category automatically become finalists. Three additional finalists are selected through multiple rounds of judging by WEGO Health community members. Nominees are reviewed and scored based on their fit for the award category, their uses of social media, and their focus on sharing information and fostering engagement.

Selecting the Winners

Starting Friday, our 96 WEGO Health Awards finalists will be reviewed and scored by our Finalist Judging Panel, comprised of industry professionals and experts, to ultimately uncover the sixteen 9th Annual WEGO Health Awards winners! Winners will be announced during our virtual ceremony, in partnership with HLTH, on October 15th at 7pm ET via a Facebook Premiere event on the WEGO Health Facebook page.

Finalists & Winners Will Receive…

Thanks to HLTH’s commitment to ensuring the patient voice is included and part of the conversation, HLTH is offering free passes to all WEGO Health Awards finalists and winners to the industry’s biggest conference on October 12-16th. Many of the conversations that take place here shape the future of the health space, so we are pleased to share that 96 patient leaders will be part of the discussion!

All finalists will also receive a WEGO Health prize pack in the mail.


Additionally, winners will receive:
• $500 prize to be used towards advocacy efforts or travel
• Compensated WEGO Health 2021 Patient Leader Advisory Board Seat (estimated cash value: $1500)
• Opportunity to be featured as a worlds’ top patient expert in HLTH’s patient-centered webinar series, as well as industry exposure opportunities throughout the year *Winners will get priority for speaking engagements and industry exposure events throughout 2021, depending on the state of COVID-19.

And now, the moment you’ve been waiting for…

WEGO Health presents the 9th Annual WEGO Health Awards Finalists!

Advocating for Another

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LeAnna Headley

Our LANDing Crew

Mariana Arias

Elle Cole

Stephanie Hueston

Toni Mathieson

WEGO Health Award Description: Not all patient leaders are sharing their own patient journey. The Advocating for Another category is for the caregivers who tirelessly raise awareness to better the lives of loved ones. Though they themselves may not be sick, they are the caregivers of children, siblings, parents, significant others, or friends, who have an up-close-and-personal perspective that is invaluable. These individuals balance life as a caregiver, all while advocating on their loved one’s behalf – whether it be through blogging, social media or legislation.

Best in Show: Blog

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Ella Hollis

Dr. Christina Hibbert

Meghan Smith


Cynthia Covert, The Disabled Diva

Caz (InvisiblyMe)

WEGO Health Award Description: Social media has its place in patient advocacy, but for many advocates, their blog persists as the heart of their advocacy. The Best in Show: Blog category is for the patient leaders who continue to publish new content or elaborate on relevant social posts through blogging. Aimed at sharing their story, raising awareness, or educating others, these are the health advocacy blogs we love to read!

Best in Show: Community/Forum

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Megan King

Jeff Folloder

Kristal Kent

Jen Schwartz – Founder and CEO, Motherhood Understood

Go Shout Love

Estela Mata

WEGO Health Award Description: A diagnosis can be life-changing, but fortunately so can the support from an online community. The Best in Show: Community category celebrates the online communities or forums that create an inviting space for newcomers while maintaining a safe place that people have come to respect and rely on. These leaders have mastered managing, moderating, and engaging their communities all for the purpose of supporting others.

Best in Show: Facebook

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Michelle Munt

The Invisible Hypothyroidism

Michelle Cole

Devin Garlit

IBD Warriors Support and Awareness

WEGO Health Award Description: Despite its recent controversies, Facebook prevails as one of the strongest online hubs for connection, conversation, and community amongst patients and caregivers. The Best in Show: Facebook category is for the patient advocates who lead in engaging Facebook groups or advocacy pages where people want to “Like”, comment, and connect!

Best in Show: Instagram

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Pina Varnel

Brandy Haberer

Ellen Inouye


You Look Okay To Me

Nathan Todd

WEGO Health Award Description: It’s no secret Instagram has become the top platform for all things visual. The Best in Show: Instagram category is for the patient leaders curating thought-provoking images, engaging videos, entertaining Insta-stories, and helpful IGTV sessions aimed at sharing their story and supporting others. These are the advocacy accounts that fill your endless Instagram scroll with support, inspiration and community!

Best in Show: Podcast

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Kathy Raegan Young – The FUMS Podcast

William Yank – The Illest.

Daniel Newman – The Talking Type 1

Michael Liben – Heart to Heart with Michael

Amy and Brittany – In Sixteen Years of Endometriosis

WEGO Health Award Description: More than ever, patient leaders are proving podcasts can be powerful! The Best in Show: Podcast category recognizes advocates taking their health stories to the airwaves to share their own experiences, explore community topics, or interview and learn from special guests. Whether educationally based, feel-good fun, or a way to meet new people, these are the advocacy podcasts you cannot stop listening to!

Best in Show: Twitter

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Pina Varnel

Dani Donovan

Rene Brooks

Matthew Hodson

Agnes Nsofwa

Daniel Malito

WEGO Health Award Description: It’s not simple to create easily digestible thoughts in 280 characters or less, but there are some patient leaders who truly excel at it. The Best in Show: Twitter category is for the patient leaders making the most out of this character limit! Whether hosting Twitter Chats, providing snapshots of new information or sharing words of encouragement, these patient leaders embody the model of Twitter for #patientadvocacy.

Best in Show: Tik-Tok

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William Yank

Paige Hennekam

Chloé Hayden

ASLSuzyQ- Suzy Stewart

Micah Thane

Jesi Stracham

WEGO Health Award Description: With the rise of TikTok, we couldn’t help but create a brand new category to recognize the patient leaders using TikTok for the greater good! The musical app has become a hotbed for awareness, giving creators the ability to take complicated topics and turn them into bite-sized units of education and entertainment. While this video platform is the home to lip-synching videos, viral dance moves and popular culture, many patient advocates are leveraging its features to make their advocacy interactive, entertaining, and plain old fun!

Best in Show: YouTube

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Our LANDing Crew

ReBranding Autism

Damian Washington

You Look Okay To Me

Effie Koliopoulos


WEGO Health Award Description: The last five years have revealed that videos tend to be more engaging and more memorable than any other type of content out there. The Best in Show: YouTube category recognizes the patient leaders who are getting in front of the camera to share their story, vlog their daily lives or educate others about their cause. Though pressing record can be daunting for many of us, these patient leaders prove video is a powerful way to connect and communicate!

Best Kept Secret

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LeAnna Headley

Dion Langley

The Wee Family

For the Breast of Us

Sarah Tompkins

Genny Jessee

WEGO Health Award Description: The internet is a vast place, making it nearly impossible to find all of the impactful content that exists. The Best Kept Secret category uncovers the hidden gems of the online health community that everyone should be following! Whether creating great content, providing endless support, or raising awareness for their cause, these patient leaders deserve the spotlight!

Best Team Performance

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Zachary Valentine

Fight Like A Warrior

Lauren Deluca & the Chronic Illness Advocacy & Awareness Group

Lindsey Pacios & Team Cure

Fibromyalgia Care Society of America, Inc.

International Foundation for Autoimmune & Autoinflammatory Arthritis (AiArthritis)

WEGO Health Award Description: The Best Team Performance category recognizes a team or group that takes their activism to new heights because of the assistance from one another. Whether it be a group that runs an online chat, a non-profit organization, or a caregiver and patient duo – this award celebrates those bringing a team effort to their advocacy!

Healthcare Collaborator

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Trishna Bharadia

Jennifer Champy

Tori Geib

Grace B. Charrier

Michele Nadeem-Baker

Kevin Freiert

WEGO Health Award Description: Fortunately, more than ever the healthcare industry is seeing just how valuable patient leaders can be! Our Healthcare Collaborator category is for the advocates bridging the gaps between industry stakeholders and healthcare consumers. Whether speaking at conferences, consulting with healthcare companies, using their education or research to help make a change in the healthcare industry, or creating apps and products to fulfill needs in the current system, these patient leaders are impacting the healthcare landscape at large.

Hilarious Patient Leader

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Dani Donovan

ReBranding Autism

Lisa Walters

Christine Olivo

A Ballsy Sense of Tumor – Justin Birckbichler

Kristen Hernandez

WEGO Health Award Description: Ever heard that laughter is the best medicine? The Hilarious Patient Leader category recognizes the patient advocates infusing a healthy dose of humor into their advocacy. They may be witty, dry or sharp. But one thing is clear, their use of humor makes even the toughest of topics more approachable and more enjoyable.

Lifetime Achievement

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Trishna Bharadia

Kristal Kent

Cathy Chester

Carrie Kellenberger

Lauren Stiles, JD

Amanda Greene ~ LA Lupus Lady

WEGO Health Award Description: Some patient advocates are true stars who continue to shine and don’t fit into just one category. The Lifetime Achievement category is for the veteran patient leaders, who after years of advocacy achievements, stand as role models for the entire online health community. Let’s recognize the advocacy leaders that inspire all of us year after year!

Patient Leader Hero

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Tiffany Kairos

Jennifer Champy

Kristin Anthony

Kevin Hines

Chisa Nosamiefan

Melodie Narain-Blackwell

WEGO Health Award Description: Sometimes, a leader’s advocacy work has the ability to truly change the lives of others. The Patient Leader Hero category celebrates those who go above and beyond for their communities and whose influence has truly made an impact. Their dedication is admirable and ignites a spark for change in everyone they meet. These patient leaders don’t need a cape to prove they are heroes!

Rookie of the Year

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Arushi Lohiya

Naima D.

Anisha Gangotra

Trevor Maxwell

Cassie Pigg

Carley Gordon

WEGO Health Award Description: As anyone in advocacy knows, communities aren’t built overnight! Sharing your story and impacting a community takes time and patience, so let’s encourage those who are recently empowered as patient leaders. The Rookie of the Year category celebrates the advocates who may be new to the scene, but continue to show the utmost potential. This category is typically for patient leaders with 1-3 years’ experience.


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Congratulations to all finalists and all nominees!

Regardless of the outcome, we hope you are all so proud! Your nomination means you have impacted the lives of others in your community and we are endlessly grateful for your contribution. Your work and voice truly have the power to change healthcare.

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