When a patient sees Ryan Prior’s personal struggles with ME/CFS through his documentary The Forgotten Plague, they know they are not alone.
Prior began to learn more about the debilitating disease as he created the film: how many people it affects, and just how severe the illness can become.
“There is no way I can ignore these facts knowing I have access to a national platform and have the skills to tell the story of these unheard voices,” Prior wrote for USA Today. “I’ve always thought of journalism as one of the highest forms of community service. And more than anything, I feel I have a duty to serve my fellow fallen brothers and sisters.”
Prior wrote and co-directed the film, and started a non-profit to support it. The Blue Ribbon Foundation‘s mission is to foster a national public dialogue that can lead to finding the cause, cure, and prevention of neuro-immune diseases.
Prior began a Blue Ribbon Fellowship that annually awards medical students a chance to study in summer fellowship at one of several prestigious infectious disease institutes to receive education in the field of ME/CFS patient care and research.
This story, this passion, has earned Prior over 1,300 votes towards a potential prize to win $50,000 for The Blue Ribbon Foundation. The Lead a Rare Life prize will award the top prize to the person whose story has the most votes, and $5,000 to six other runners-up. Prior included this video with his narrative story:
“Regardless of how all this turns out,” Prior said, “I think this contest is a great way to publicize and educate people about the Blue Ribbon Fellowship. Simply by spurring a conversation across the community, I see this as a win, and could help get the attention of philanthropists or NGOs interested in partnering in a larger way.”
MEAction writer Darla recently wrote an article that notes the lack of ME/CFS instruction in top medical schools and concluded: “This lack of training by some of the top medical schools in the country highlights the urgent need for better training for clinicians to help them understand the illness, diagnose ME/CFS swiftly and accurately, and provide sensible, symptom-based treatment recommendations while medical research continues to work towards a cure.” Education in the public sphere as well as the private sphere can go a long way towards making this illness more visible and better-understood.
Prior advocates daily for the thousands of patients who have reached out to him since he began writing about his illness. He currently is the president of the Blue Ribbon Foundation, a board member at #MEAction, and spoke at the #MillionsMissing protest in D.C. This year he will return a second time as a Stanford MedX ePatient Scholar, and was voted ProHealth’s Patient of the Year in 2014.
Vote for Ryan Prior by going to this link: http://eaglerarelife.com/content/ryan-prior, and join this Facebook group, set up and graciously run by Faith Wong and Helen Atkinson, to receive a daily reminder to vote again.