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One Young Woman’s Heartfelt Speech at IDF Walk for PI

Hear from Michelle on Her Life with PI

“IDF means so much to me and has helped me in so many ways. Most of us know how IDF directly helps with research, education, support and providing resources for the community,” explained Michelle Searle, member of the IDF community. “But what you may not know is how it helps me and so many others indirectly.”

Michelle Searle is an active member of the PI community who has been involved with IDF Walk for PI – Fort Lauderdale for the past three years. As a Top Team participant, she had the opportunity to speak at the walk about her experiences.

Michelle Searle at IDF Walk for PI 2017 – Fort Lauderdale

 

“For me, supporting the walks shows that you’re supporting us: the people that have these illnesses and that in itself is so important,” explained Michelle.

Below, read Michelle’s speech about how IDF has helped her and why IDF Walk for PI is so significant to people living with PI and their families.

“My name is Michelle Searle. I’m 22 years old, and I was diagnosed with Common Variable Immune Deficiency (CVID) when I was 11. I’ve had a lot of experience with the Immune Deficiency Foundation by being a teen council member, attending many National Conferences, Get Connected Group gatherings and Teen Escapes. I’ve gone to Capitol Hill for the past 3 years for Advocacy Day, and this is my third year at IDF Walk for Primary Immunodeficiency (PI) in Fort Lauderdale.

IDF means so much to me and has helped me in so many ways. Most of us know how IDF directly helps with research, education, support and providing resources for the community. But what you may not know is how it helps me and so many others indirectly.

Going to my first IDF event in 2009 filled a void for me that I didn’t know I had. It’s hard for me to describe the feeling I get when I’m at an IDF event surrounded by not only the people that are there for support, but by the people that are there who also know what I go through and know what it’s like to live with an immune deficiency. I always feel like I’m recharged when I go to an event and that it’s going to be okay because I’m not alone going through this. IDF Walk for PI is a big part of that.

For me, supporting the walks shows that you’re supporting us: the people that have these illnesses, and that in itself is so important. I still become overwhelmed each year with the amount of support I receive surrounding IDF Walk for PI, and that carries me throughout the year. When I’m about to do an infusion and I’m feeling sick of it and I don’t want to stick another needle in me, I look over at a walk poster hung next to my desk that I got at the first Fort Lauderdale walk signed by my family and friends and I look at the flags that I’ve kept, and it reminds me that it gets hard at times, but I have so many people on my side.

Although it’s extremely important to raise money, that’s why we’re here, supporting IDF, to me, it’s just as important to show up to events like this to educate yourself on primary immunodeficiencies and to show that you support and notice us. For many, it’s an invisible illness and sometimes not having people want to learn about it or jumping to conclusions or not taking the time to ask how we’re feeling is the worst part.

IDF has helped me meet and interact with people from all over the world that continuously give me new friendships, a bigger support system, and new information and tips I learn from other patients. Supporting IDF Walk for PI is supporting the people that live with these illnesses. And that is one of the most important things.  

I would just like to thank everyone who works for and volunteers for IDF for putting this walk together. I’d like to thank all of the sponsors that are here and everyone that has come to the walk, patients, family members, and friends. I’d like to thank the plasma donors because they give us life. And most of all I’d like to thank from the bottom of my heart my family and friends who are here today.”

Pictured: Michelle Searle (right) and some of her teammates at IDF Walk for PI 2017 – Fort Lauderdale

 

Want to get involved with IDF Walk for PI?
Learn more: www.walkforPI.org.

If you would like to share your story and/or experiences with IDF Walk for PI, please contact us: walk@primaryimmune.org.

This article originally appeared in the IDF monthly e-newsletter, Primary Immune Tribune. Click here to subscribe.

 

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