TARPON SPRINGS, FL – On December 18, American Vitiligo Research Foundation (AVRF) Founder and President Stella Pavlides met with U.S. Congressman Gus Bilirakis of Florida and presented him with the organization’s 2019 “Embracing Diversity” calendar. Pavlides spoke to The National Herald in October about the organization and the dedication to finding a cure for vitiligo which often has devastating psychological effects on young people diagnosed with the disorder.
She told TNH, “We also create a children’s ‘Embracing Diversity’ calendar each year where children and their parents talk about how their lives have changed after being diagnosed with vitiligo. I had no idea what a positive impact the AVRF has had on these children, but again I am one person. Please help me leave a legacy to our future generations by hopefully having our researchers find a good treatment or better yet the cure.”
More information about AVRF is available online: avrf.org.
Rep. Bilirakis also presented Pavlides with a letter addressed to the Greek-American community. The full text follows:
To my fellow Greek-Americans,
It is my pleasure to express my continuing support for the American Vitiligo Research Foundation Inc. (AVRF), a tax-exempt charity founded in 1995 by Ms. Stella Pavlides, a remarkable Greek-American woman.
An incurable auto-immune disorder which causes the skin to lose pigmentation, vitiligo can affect anyone, anywhere. While vitiligo is physically painless, the bullying and discrimination it precipitates hurts nonetheless, and it profoundly impacts the social and psychological well-being of those who suffer, particularly children of all races. The more than five million American men, women, and children who have vitiligo know firsthand the emotional distress it causes. As there is no known cure for vitiligo, we must continue to educate people about this disease so that those affected are not discriminated against.
I first became familiar with vitiligo through AVRF Founder & President Stella Pavlides, a tireless advocate who has dedicated her life to finding a cure for vitiligo and ending the emotional pain it causes. For 23 years, the AVRF has provided public awareness about vitiligo through dedicated work, education, counseling, and lobbying at both the state and federal levels.
One of the many tools the AVRF utilizes to raise awareness through education is their wonderful “Embracing Diversity” calendar. Since its inception in 2003, I have had the privilege of receiving this beautiful calendar every year which features 12 inspiring children living with vitiligo. Each child shares their ups and downs of living with this skin disorder. I have even presented these calendars to my fellow Members of Congress and I look forward to sharing the 2019 version in the upcoming 116th Congress.
Again, I am proud to support Stella Pavlides and the American Vitiligo Research Foundation in their admirable mission to make a difference worldwide to those afflicted by vitiligo, with a focus on children and their families.
Gus M. Bilirakis
Member of Congress