NARRAGANSETT – Richard and Debra Siravo have been named 2012 WebMD Health Heroes for the establishment of the Matthew Siravo Memorial Foundation – The Matty Fund – a nonprofit that provides services to children and families affected by epilepsy.
The Siravos established The Matty Fund in 2003 after epilepsy led to the death of their 5-year-old son. Four Health Heroes are named each year, and the Sirvaros are the first in Rhode Island to be recognized by the nationally renowned medical information magazine and website.
“I know our angel Matty is giving us a thumbs up,” said Richard Siravo in a statement. “What started off as a way to cope with our grief has turned into an organization that helps hundreds of families confront and cope with epilepsy for the first time. We’ve reached families across Rhode Island and beyond.”
As Health Heroes, WebMD has published a feature story on the Siravos in its magazine and on its website and the couple received a $2,500 award, which they donated directly to The Matty Fund.
“We know the fear and the challenges epilepsy presents and understand the dramatic changes that take place within a family coping with this disease,” Debra Siravo said in prepared remarks. “When Matty was diagnosed, we struggled to find support locally. We can’t think of a better way to honor Matty’s life than by sharing our experience with other families and providing them with the support they so desperately need.”
WebMD’s Health Heroes are individuals who overcome a medical challenge and then give back to their community “with passion and commitment.”
“Rather than succumb to grief or anger, Debra, a schoolteacher, and Richard, who owned an insurance adjuster business, decided to help others. Starting in their basement in [Narragansett], R.I., they set up The Matty Fund to provide information and resources to other families dealing with epilepsy,” said a feature on WebMD.com.
The other 2012 WebMD Health Heroes were:
Bonnie Addario, a lung cancer survivor and founder of the Bonnie J. Addario Foundation, which raises awareness of lung cancer and money for cancer research.
Bonnie Stehr, a founder of the 90–day Olympic Weight Loss Challenge, a community-wide weight loss competition complete with cash prizes and fund-raising for charity.
Robina Suwol, a mother whose son’s asthma attack after being accidentally sprayed with pesticides prompted her to investigated pesticide use in the Los Angeles Unified School District and eventually form California Safe Schools.