Presenting the 2018 WEGO Health Awards Finalists

We’d like to congratulate all of the nominees in this year’s WEGO Health Awards. Every year we are blown away by the nominees and this year was no different.

Each Patient Leader and Patient Leader team brings a unique perspective to the online health community and it’s been a tremendous honor to learn more about their journeys.

After we calculated the top 3 endorsed nominees, our network judging panel reviewed over 4,000 nominations to select 2 additional finalists. This has resulted in a total of 5 finalists for each category. Our judges reported it was no easy feat, as there were so many tremendous nominees to choose from!

These finalists now move on to our final judging phase which will decide this year’s winners. To view this year’s distinguished judging panel, click here.

The 2018 WEGO Health Awards Winners will be announced during our virtual ceremony September 26th – 28th, 2018.

We will be celebrating on all of the WEGO Health social channels and each WEGO Health Awards category winner will be announced on Facebook Live. Stay tuned for the finalized agenda.

Our 16 WEGO Health Awards winners will receive:


  • $500 Travel stipend to travel to the in-person WEGO Health Awards ceremony
  • General admission to the Connected Health Conference October 18th – 19th, 2018
  • Admission to the Society for Participatory Medicine Conference October 17th, 2018
  • Invite to industry networking and reception meet up on October 17th, 2018
  • Personalized WEGO Health Awards plaque given during the honorary ceremony

We can’t wait to see who will win this year!

And now, without futher adou. . .

WEGO Health presents the

2018 WEGO Health Awards Finalists!

Advocating for Another

Don Stranathan


Dr. Shashank  Akerkar


Hannah Young


Chrisa Hickey – The Mindstorm: Childhood Mental Illness


Crystal Fretz


WEGO Health Award Description: Of the many reasons Patient Leaders get involved in advocacy, this group of advocates possess a special inspiration; they are caregivers of children, siblings, parents, significant others, or friends. Though these advocates may not personally experience a chronic health condition, they tirelessly raise awareness and have an up-close-and-personal perspective that is invaluable. Not only do they care for someone in-person, but they also support others in the online health community through various blogs, sites, and social media presences. They prove that caregivers and parents need to be at the table to change healthcare for the better. Who should be recognized for above and beyond advocacy for another?

Best in Show: Blog

Ronny Allan


Nadia Fuad

Rebecca Lombardo


Kirsten Schultz


Evie Shallom


WEGO Health Award Description: Whose blog do you absolutely love? Who has the best information, raises awareness, and goes the extra mile for patients and/or caregivers? Which blog do you believe truly raises the bar? This Patient Leader may be active on numerous social platforms, but their blog is the bread and butter of how they advocate. The winner of this category embodies the essence of what a great blogger should aspire to be.

Best in Show: Community/Forum

Tom Mitchell


Natalie van Scheltinga – The Unchargeables


Greg Pierce-WhatNext


Lee Good


Rick Davis


WEGO Health Award Description: Who has created an amazing online community or threaded forum facilitating important conversations? Through active community management, engagement, and moderation, they’ve created a place that has it all. They’ve mastered the art of creating an inviting space for newcomers while keeping a safe space that people respect, rely on, and recommend to friends and family. Moderating and managing health-related conversations can be draining, so let’s reward them for all of their hard work.

Best in Show: Facebook

Kristal Kent


Sal Paradiso 


Carlos Vasconcelos 


Bipolar Hot Mess


Kristin Selby Gonzalez 


WEGO Health Award Description: Over the past few years, Facebook has transformed from a place for a personal profile to a hub for discourse, conversation, and community. Who has the best Facebook group or page out there? Who utilizes Facebook Live to amplify their patient advocacy? The winner of this category has balanced the ever-changing Facebook interface and turned it into an opportunity to reach more people. This Patient Leader fosters an environment where people want to “Like” and interact. They may be on other social media platforms, but he/she skillfully utilizes all the tools Facebook has to offer.

Best in Show: Instagram

Amy Lee Fisher




PCOS Support Girl


Kenzie (becactuskenz)


Abby Sams


WEGO Health Award Description: A picture is worth a thousand words.” A cliché perhaps, but nowhere is this truer than Instagram. Curating an Instagram gallery is no small feat. This Best in Show winner is the Patient Leader who tells their story and the story of countless others through engaging, thought-provoking images and Insta-stories. Who do you believe is using IG for a higher purpose? Who is invoking a sense of community, raising awareness, and driving change?

Best in Show: Podcast

 Lisa Cypers Kamen


Kathy Young- FUMS


Lauren Selfridge


The Psych Central Show With Host Gabe Howard & Vincent M. Wales


Sickboy Podcast


WEGO Health Award Description: Your earbuds are in and you’re ready to hit play. Which podcast will you listen to? Many Patient Leaders are taking to the virtual airwaves to tell their stories. Through these online audio shows, listeners can take these Leaders with them anywhere. These hosts leave us feeling inspired and get our wheels turning. Celebrate their hard work, and show them their audience is listening with the WEGO Health Best In Show: Podcast award.

Best in Show: Twitter

Ashley Levinson Sells @pcosgurl


Jeff Borghoff


Nicole Sigur


Buddy Project


Ace Ratclif


WEGO Health Award Description: It’s not easy to do amazing things in 140 characters -but there are some Leaders who truly excel at it. Creating easily digestible thoughts can be difficult with health stories and research. Whose tweets do you always go looking for? Which accounts are your favorite to follow? Who hosts your “can’t miss” Twitter chat? Let’s celebrate those Leaders using Twitter for their advocacy with an award. Whether they’ve created their own Twitter chat, participate actively in others’ chats, push out words of encouragement or are there for support – they are the model of Twitter for #health.

Best in Show: YouTube

Christina Doherty


CHECK 15: The Monthly Cancer Awareness Day


Mickey Sorenson


Hannah Blum


Jim Murrell- The Transplant Helper


WEGO Health Award Description: Give the people what they want – VIDEO! Bloggers and social media mavens all know that if you’re not creating video, you’ll be left behind. We’re looking for the brave Patient Leaders who star in videos as a way to connect with fellow patients and caregivers. They’re creating how-to videos, describing their day- to-day lives, highlighting others and showcasing their advocacy works. You feel connected to them, and to their cause, because their videos are so engaging and well put together. Who is your favorite YouTube rock star? Who do you believe should be recognized for their contributions to the online video community?

Best Kept Secret

Amber Wallace (Ostomy Diaries)


Kate Weldon LeBlanc


Bev Late


Mike Durbin


Dale Reardon


WEGO Health Award Description: The Internet is a vast place, making it nearly impossible to find all of the amazing content that exists. We find ourselves continuously turning to our Patient Leader Network to help give us recommendations of the who we should follow. Who do you believe is a hidden gem – an advocate, influencer or expert who creates great content and should have the spotlight shone on them? Who deserves double the readership because they are doing great things as an advocate? Help us uncover the best kept secret of the online health space.

Best Team Performance

Beth Francis and Andy Clark – @vitaminseafilm


The Frey Life


AME – Amigos Múltiplos pela Esclerose


Central Pain Nerve Center


Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative (MANI)


WEGO Health Award Description: Advocating doesn’t have to be a one man/woman show. This award is for those teams who work better together. Whether it be a group that runs an online chat, a non-profit organization, or a caregiver and patient duo – this award is for a team that takes their activism to new heights because of the assistance from one another. Nominate those teams for this award instead of having to choose whom to single out from a team effort.

Healthcare Collaborator: Company

Eye for Pharma


International Hyperhidrosis Society




ViiV Healthcare


Janssen Pharmaceuticals


WEGO Health Award Description: Healthcare companies are looking to collaborate with Patient Leaders who can bring the “real-world” experience of navigating the complexities and challenges of their condition, as well as the healthcare system. Many don’t know where to start, but a few stand out as making a real difference. These agencies, pharmaceutical companies, health plans and healthcare innovators deserve to be praised for their dedication to listening and incorporating Patient Leaders. They truly understand that patients are so much more than their insights. As a Patient Leader, tell us what agency, pharmaceutical company, health plan or healthcare innovator you see as standing out amongst the crowd. Who do you wish others would model after? Let’s celebrate these leaders who truly utilize Patient Leaders to help transform healthcare.

Healthcare Collaborator: Patient

Jenni Grover


Julie Eller


Lisa Rosenthal


Amanda Greene


Danny van Leeuwen


WEGO Health Award Description: Speaking at conferences, consulting with healthcare companies, using their education to help make change in the healthcare industry – this Patient Leader is bridging the gap between industry stakeholders and healthcare consumers. These patient experts are passionate about healthcare and bring their skills and expertise to bear on a range of industry challenges. They understand healthcare from the patient perspective, but they are also professionals with the skills and ability to help companies advance their most critical patient-facing initiatives. Who is someone you know out there working within the industry to make change? Who is making an impact, not only among patients, but on the healthcare landscape as a whole?

Hilarious Patient Leader

A Ballsy Sense of Tumor – Justin Birckbichler


MarlaJan- Luck Fupus


Ardra Shepard


My Odd Sock


Lauren Rowe


WEGO Health Award Description: Advocacy doesn’t have to be all business, and raising awareness doesn’t have to be all work. The truly funny Patient Leaders among us bring a lightness to the online health community. They address serious subjects with humor – and we love them for it. They may be witty, sharp, dry, or just have a way to tell a story that is truly funny. Is there someone you go to for chuckles on a bad day? Whose blogs or tweets always make you laugh? Let’s celebrate their style and thank them for cracking us up when we need it most.

Lifetime Achievement

Tom Kindlon


Barbara Jacoby


Jenni Grover


Natalie Y. Beavers


John M. Grohol


WEGO Health Award Description: Year in and year out we come across Patient Leaders who continue to change the health world. Which leader do you believe needs to be recognized for their overall achievement over the years? These Patient leaders are true stars who continue to shine and don’t fit into just one category. Let’s face it, they’ve done it ALL. Perhaps they even started their advocacy before Twitter… gasp! Think of this category just like the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Academy Awards. Let’s recognize those giants of patient leadership that have stood the test of time.

Patient Leader Hero

Kristal Kent


Heather Von St James


Gustavo San Martin


Dawn M. Gibson


Rare Candace


WEGO Health Award Description: Sometimes the connections we make in online communities go above and beyond, truly changing our lives for the better. Which Patient Leader has content that has opened your eyes to seeing things differently? Whose dedication has ignited the advocate within you to make a change? Which advocate’s or influencer’s work has effected change for their community members? This Patient Leader’s influence truly has the impact to make a difference. They’re nothing short of a hero. Nominate the Leader you truly believe embodies the spirit of a healthcare influencer.

Rookie of the Year

Jamie Teachey-Pyle 


Moniqua Demetrious: Beautifully Made- Inside & Out


Samantha Smith


Effie Koliopoulos 


 Jason Schutz


WEGO Health Award Description: Every year, more and more health bloggers are excited by empowerment, raising awareness, and helping others. This particular advocate just started their blog, site, or community work this year and is already making a huge impact. Though they’re new to the scene, they show a ton of promise and are, without a doubt, going to do amazing things in the future. They’re well on their way to becoming a top influencer within the online health world. Who is your favorite new Advocate? Who is someone you can see rising above and making an impact in the online health space? Let’s give them the encouragement they need to keep putting in the hard work.

As you can see, the competition is fierce this year!. Take a moment and scroll through all of the deserving nominees when you get a chance. You’ll see that our judges have NO easy task in deciding the winners this year.

As a reminder: Winners will be announced during our virtual ceremony September 26th-28th on Facebook Live.

Note: If you are a finalist and did NOT receive your WEGO Health Awards Finalist kit in your email, please email ASAP.

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