In November 2008, Jamie was hanging with friends on campus in Austin, Texas but 14 hours later ended up in the emergency room after she developed flu-like symptoms.
She was diagnosed with meningococcal disease, an uncommon but aggressive infection that, within 24 hours of onset of symptoms, can be fatal or cause life-long disability.
In two years she went from learning how to walk, to brush her teeth and to feed herself — things we always take for granted. Jamie learned how to adapt a sport without legs or fingers, to riding around 70 miles per week, to winning the 2011 Road National Paralympic Championship, earning a spot on the U.S. Paralympic Cycling Team.
Even while recovering at the hospital, she started advocating for the awareness of meningitis and its consequences. She joined forces with a nonprofit that was lobbying for a law mandating all colleges in the state of Texas require students to get an existing vaccine protecting people against all types of meningitis known as The Jamie Schanbaum Act. She became a spokesperson for the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline PLC, a role that brought her to share her story at the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment & Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition Joint Coalition Meeting: Meningitis: A Lived Experience and Opportunities to Vaccinate.
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