Life as a Zebra Foundation’s Mission
The primary purpose of the Life as a Zebra Foundation is to receive and administer funds for the purpose of education and charitable contributions for education, prevention, treatment, and research of various invisible illnesses. Life as a Zebra Foundation works to bring visibility to invisible illnesses.
Why “Life As A Zebra?”
In medical school, students are taught to diagnose patients based on the condition that’s most likely. This idea goes along with the saying, “When you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras.” The horses are the likely explanation, while the zebras are less likely. A medical zebra, then, is a person with a difficult to diagnose, often invisible medical condition.
What We Do
Education. Awareness. Advocacy. Support. Hope.
- Raise funds for invisible illness awareness and research.
- Spearhead the State of Michigan resolutions for “Invisible Illness Awareness Week.”
- Meet with various lawmakers to discuss policy changes for people who suffer with invisible illnesses.
- Host “Zebra Days” at local elementary schools to educate our youth on the importance of patience and empathy, and not judging what you do not know or see.
- Participate in wellness events and speaking engagements.
- Host fundraisers and sell merchandise to raise money for education, prevention, treatment, and research of various invisible illnesses.
- Work to build a community of people who care about eradicating various invisible illnesses.
- Inspire and provide guidance, resources, and hope to people who live with chronic, invisible illnesses by sharing personal stories about living with chronic, invisible illnesses through print and public speaking engagements.
How It Began
Life as a Zebra Foundation began with a website after sisters, Katie Dama-Jaskolski and Allie Dama-Affandy, became sick with their own chronic, invisible illnesses. They began sharing their stories about redefining their lives and learning to live with their new realities. As the website grew, Katie and Allie decided to make it their goal to raise money for a few invisible illnesses–Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Dysautonomia, and Vasculitis–while highlighting the importance of raising awareness for all illnesses that are not visible to the outside world. As the foundation grew, so did their vision of wanting to bring visibility to all invisible illnesses, which currently remains Life as a Zebra Foundation’s mission.
- Life as a Zebra Foundation became a domestic, nonprofit foundation on November 8, 2012. On September 29, 2013 the foundation received its official status as a 501(c)(3) organization.
- Since 2012, LAAZF has raised over $120,000 for invisible illness awareness projects and research.
- Spearheaded the 2015-2018 State of Michigan resolutions for “Invisible Illness Awareness Week.”
- Met with various federal congressmen and senators to advocate for a National Invisible Illness Awareness Day of Action.
- Have hosted multiple “Zebra Days” at local elementary schools to educate our youth on the importance of patience, empathy, and not judging what you do not know or see.
- Have participated in numerous wellness events and speaking engagements.
- Has a continuing partnership with the University of Toledo Medical Center to support Dr. Grubb’s research on Dysautonomia since 2015. Has donated $42,800.37 to date to support Dr. Grubb’s research.
- The Life as a Zebra Blog has been nominated multiple times for various health activist awards through WEGO Health including Best Blog, Health Activist Hero, and the Trailblazer Award.
How You Can Help
- Make a tax deductible donation to Life as a Zebra Foundation.
- Spread the word and raise invisible illness awareness in your community.
- Sponsor or volunteer at a Life as a Zebra Foundation event.
- Advocate for invisible illness legislation in your community.
- Demonstrate kindness and empathy in your daily interactions.