Arthritis Foundation Honors Champions of Yes

Volunteers, Staff and Scientists Awarded Top Honors at the Arthritis Foundation’s Annual Meeting

ATLANTA (Nov. 23, 2015) – During the Arthritis Foundation’s Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Nov. 19-20, the Foundation recognized volunteers and staff who embody the organization’s Champion of Yes spirit by helping people living with arthritis lead better lives and find everyday victories. Experts, leaders, staff and volunteers from around the country came together to build momentum, share plans and ideas for the future and celebrate the Foundation’s successes—as well as celebrate the award winners announced during the Foundation’s two presentation ceremonies, its Evening of Honors dinner and Recognition of Champions luncheon.

During the Evening of Honors dinner, the Arthritis Foundation honored Janalee Taylor with its highest nationwide volunteer award, the Charles B. Harding Award for Distinguished Service. This annual award recognizes a volunteer who tirelessly pursues conquering arthritis by providing leadership and direction, giving of his or her time and talent generously to help others and challenging other Foundation volunteers to be their best. For 30 years Taylor has assisted the Arthritis Foundation in various capacities and currently serves as chair of its charter and performance committee where she works diligently to help the organization to reach its mission metrics.

The Lee C. Howley Sr. Prize for Arthritis Scientific Research recognized 42 scientists who played key roles in the scientific discovery of a new autoimmune syndrome. Lead author Levi Watkin and scientists used cutting-edge techniques to identify a new autoimmune syndrome that combines the characteristics of severe lung disease with arthritis. Thanks to their groundbreaking collaborative research, more life-changing therapies may become available to all people with arthritis.

David Covall, MD, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon from Atlanta was awarded the Volunteer and Staff Partnership Award for his work strengthening the partnership between Northside Hospital and the Arthritis Foundation with Jamie Johnson, area director for the Southeast. Dr. Covall also played a key role, raising nearly $250,000 in new revenue supporting the Foundation’s work to help people with arthritis live life to the fullest.

Vic DiPilla, vice president and chief business development officer at The Christ Hospital in Cincinnati, OH, also received the Volunteer and Staff Partnership Award. DiPilla served as corporate chair for his local Walk to Cure Arthritis and helped raise more than $200,000 for the Arthritis Foundation.

Sylvia Richard, division vice president of the Arthritis Foundation Ohio River Valley Chapter, inspires her colleagues daily. Working with DiPIlla, they turned vision into action, and created significant fundraising success in the Ohio River Valley.

Robin Dore, MD, received the Arthritis Foundation’s Health Care Professional of the Year Award. For more than 30 years, Dr. Dore has been an avid supporter of the Arthritis Foundation and an ever-present source of inspiration for the arthritis community. She is a practicing rheumatologist and outspoken advocate for people with arthritis.

Terrance Starz, MD, also earned the Arthritis Foundation’s Health Care Professional of the Year Award. Dr. Starz has been a significant contributor to his local Pennsylvania Arthritis Foundation office and an integral part of his local Walk to Cure Arthritis, the Bone Bash and other special events. In addition, Dr. Starz is a lead writer for the Arthritis Foundation’s “Breaking the Pain Chain” patient education program.

The Clifford M. Clarke Award for Outstanding Leadership, the highest honor given to Arthritis Foundation staff, was awarded to Tom Fite, President and CEO of the Heartland Region. For nearly 30 years, Fite has been an integral part of the Arthritis Foundation family, strengthening revenue and leading the organization to a centralized model. His leadership has rallied many dedicated staff members, board members and donors who support the Foundation’s mission to conquer arthritis.

The Arthritis Foundation honored other valued advocates at its Recognizing our Champions lunch and conveyed two awards, the Young Adult Leadership Award and Community Impact Award. Renee Cafaro received the Foundation’s Young Adult Leadership Award in recognition of her exceptional leadership. In her first year fundraising for the Foundation, Cafaro raised over $7,000 and acted as a local adult honoree the following year. While serving as the national Walk to Cure Arthritis adult honoree in 2015, Cafaro raised nearly $75,000, making her the top fundraiser in the country.

Anthony Rizzo, Jr. received the Community Impact Award for his commitment to furthering Arthritis Foundation’s mission in his community. Rizzo mobilized volunteers and expanded the Arthritis Foundation’s presence in the New England Region, raising more than $620,000 for the Foundation while building awareness for juvenile arthritis and helping create new partnerships.

About the Arthritis Foundation

The Arthritis Foundation is the Champion of Yes. Leading the fight for the arthritis community, the Foundation helps conquer everyday battles through life-changing information and resources, access to optimal care, advancements in science and community connections. The Arthritis Foundation’s goal is to chart a winning course, guiding families in developing personalized plans for living a full life – and making each day another stride towards a cure. The Foundation also publishes Arthritis Today, the award-winning magazine that reaches 4 million readers per issue.

Media Contact:
Rachel Wingard
Cookerly Public Relations
(404) 419-9229