Morgan Manella was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease at the age of eleven. Although this debilitating illness has imposed many challenges on Morgan's daily life, Morgan decided that she would not allow her disease to get in the way of her happiness or success.
At a young age, Morgan realized that there are many children suffering to such an extent that they are unable to develop a similar outlook. When she was 15, Morgan founded the first teen support group in South Florida for children and young adults with Crohn's and Colitis. She was also a Keynote Speaker at the 2008 Book of Hope Luncheon where she spoke about the challenges of living with Crohn's and the steps she has taken to overcome this illness.
Morgan's experience with Crohn's has fueled her professional interests. Morgan studied journalism at Emory University, and she previously worked at CNN covering health and wellness. She is now a Platform Editor for the Wall Street Journal.
Lexi Pappas is an advocate for and is also diagnosed with FSHD, a type of Muscular Dystrophy. Lexi was unofficially diagnosed with FSHD when she was about 12 years old. They knew she had developed it since it was genetic on her mothers side of the family. (Recently though, she was officially diagnosed by a doctor and plans to participate in upcoming clinical trials for FSHD). In the beginning, she would hide her disability as she was afraid of how people might perceive her.
She realized though that hiding this huge part of her life, was not going to help in the fight to find a cure, so at about 18 years old she began to advocate for FSHD. She has held multiple fundraisers, attended conferences, spoken at events, and met many others living with her disability along the way. Recently, Lexi has become more involved with advocating for all disabilities rather than just her own. In daily life, Lexi is a video editor and producer at Dell Technologies, and volunteers her time editing videos for non-profit organizations.