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Vestibular Hero Awards

Posted by Cynthia Ryan

The VeDA Heroes Program recognizes people who have gone “above and beyond” in the assistance of vestibular patients.<--break->

The vestibular community is full of caring, dedicated, and innovative individuals who consistently go “above and beyond” to support those suffering with a vestibular disorder. VeDA seeks to give people the opportunity to shine a spotlight on these individuals and their stories.

We received 40 nominations for the VeDA Hero Award, all of which were amazing and deserving. These five recipients were chosen for their selfless dedication to their loved ones and the vestibular community.


SamanthA Shepard

Nominated by Jill Shepard

"Samantha is my youngest daughter. She transferred from the college she was attended and loved to move back home and be my caregiver once I got sick. She takes all her classes online so they don’t interfere with my doctor appointments. She drives me everywhere, since I can’t drive anymore, and does everything for and with me. At 21 years old, she has become my right hand man and I don’t know what I would do without her!"


Abdul Mutaal

Nominated by Mussawir

“He helped us in establishing our country's first complete vestibular & balance assessment & management lab which is now providing diagnosis & rehab services to our patients. He translated the Dizziness Handicap Inventory (DHI) into the Urdu language, which are we using now in our clinic.”


Javiera Lo-Loyola

Nominated by Sandra Loyola-Sandoval

"My daughter has been my hero from my first attack 10 years ago. She was only 10 years old. She cooks for me, brings me food, cold packs and anything she could think of to help me feel better. She turned 19 this year, she become a carer without complains. She would drive me with her Learners to the doctor or the hospital when things got really bad. She has taken care of me with so much compassion, always trying to understand what her mum goes thru. She would cancel her plans if she knows I’m not well. There are too many circumstances to mentioned and to give them justice they deserve. She would not want to be nominated as she does not see herself as a hero. She is constantly telling me what a strong and resilient woman I am. I love you my baby, thank you so much for being my angel, my life-saver and my inspiration, love Sandra (mum).”


Kathleen Tietjen

Nominated by Stacy Harpold

“My mother is my VeDA hero. When I was diagnosed with vestibular neuritis back in 2016, I was so sick my husband couldn't take care of me. My mother and father dropped their lives in Florida to come to New York to take care of me. She is the one who found VeDA’s website and read it top to bottom and front to back. She found out the type of doctors she had to take me to and drove me all over NY to find the right ones. She brought me to my VRT sessions 2 to 3 times a week. I started getting better when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She began to fight her own battle, but still cared more for my well-being than her own. Luckily, she is a breast cancer survivor. When I got sick again in July 2017 she continued to be my full supporter and my advocate as well. She is my voice to family members and friends who question what disorders I have and spreads education to all that will listen. She is my hero and should be VeDA’s as well. With or without this honor, she is the most important person in my life, other than my husband. She herself is a true warrior and a fighter.”


Dr. Kathy Gill-Body

Nominated by Janit Greenwood

“Dr. Gill Body has been a full-time faculty member at the MGH Institute in Boston, where she developed the initial Doctor of Physical Therapy neurologic curriculum. During her 14 years at the school, she also was the clinical lead on numerous research grants with former IHP Professor Dr. David Krebs.

Dr.Gill Body is on the editorial board of Academy of Neurologic Physical Therapy.

For the last five years, she has been my vestibular therapist, treating me with every newly developed and validated therapy.  Dr. Gill Body is the quintessential practitioner.  She continues to research new ideas and is always willing to discuss the best ideas for me personally. Above and beyond her professional capabilities, she is the kindest and most supportive person I have worked with. 

I have seen over 15 MDs for my disorder and continue to search for the answers that are elusive, but I am always heartened and uplifted when I see Kathy, who makes sure I am on the right track and keeps me optimistic.

I can think of no better person to be a VeDA hero as she has been my hero!”


There were so many worthy Vestibular Hero nominations, and we want to acknowledge each and every one. Each week five more nominees will be highlighted. 

Also nominated for the Vestibular Hero Award were:

Rebecca Cunningham

Nominated by Cynthia Trullinger

"Dr. Cunningham works tirelessly for her patients and eclipses all prior healthcare professionals I have met in my lifetime.  She exemplifies the trust and professionalism that many do not offer where she has a compassionate curious mind that gets to the root of your issue. Dr. Cunningham taught me to not fear my vestibular disturbance but to instead, break down the symptoms into more manageable sets and work them out piece by piece. I applaud her relentless determination to oversee my insurance confusion and put it to rest swiftly. In short, Dr. Cunningham takes the guess work out of very confusing body dysfunction and helped me regain as much of my life as possible. I finally moved to a beautiful place with fresh air and a positive support network, all because I trusted her to teach me about my Vestibular disturbance. She has championed me at every challenge and never let me down. Thank you Dr. Cunningham, I hope anyone with an OT need starts with you first! Fight on!"


James McLaughlin

Nomiated by Nicole Michadick

"I am nominating this person because he has gone beyond anything in trying to help me with my vestibular issues.  He’s taken me to my vestibular rehabilitation therapy appointments, he’s taken me to the store, he’s taken me to other doctors’ appointments because I can’t drive and he has driven my daughter and I places where we need to go. He’s got me out of the house and helped me to get through some of my bad times. One time in particular, we were in Walmart and as anyone with vestibular issues know, Walmart can be horrid for us.  I started feeling very disoriented and disconnected. I ran out as fast as I could. He came out shortly after me and helped me up from where I was sitting on the curb and he helped me by understanding and offering to be there when I need help. This man is 80 years old and I wish I could do more as a thank you for him."


Robert Dumont

Nominated by Rebecca Dumont

"My husband, Rob, is my hero because he has always been there for me since day one. When I received the gentamicin injection on November 2 last year, I lost all my balance and was hospitalized for 1 week. My husband took 6 months off from work to take care of me. He bathed me, fed me, dressed me, and took care of me as I learned to take care of myself again. The patience and understanding he has shown for this crazy disease goes above and beyond anyone I know! He has been a savoir as I put my life back together, and gave me the strength to return to work."


Brent Anderson

Nominated by Erin Peters

"When I was diagnosed with labyrinthitis, my husband was also diagnosed with diabetes. During the acute early stages of my illness I couldn't even leave the house. My husband was learning how to manage his illness, and had to take care of me and our daughter. He was and is my hero. Even now that I'm back in the world he understands when I'm dizzy and takes extra care! I am lucky."


Robert Banker

Nominated by Susan Banker

"My husband is my hero! He holds me up when I'm too dizzy to stand, he takes me places when I don't feel up to driving, he's been there to take me to umpteen PT appointments when I was too dizzy and is by my side whenever I need him. He walks with me, and makes sure I'm coming, even when I'm lagging behind, and makes sure I don't fall. He says that that's what marriage is all about!! I love him very much for all of this, but even more for the man he has become and who he is today! Don't know what I'd do without him!!! I love him more than the day we married."


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