For her work, Bridges won the Outstanding Volunteer Leadership Award at the 2015 National Volunteer Conference held in July. So, it's more than a little ironic that just two years ago, a new doctor questioned her psoriasis diagnosis and asked to take a biopsy to confirm. During her acceptance speech, Bridges recalled how anxious she felt while waiting for the results.
"I've never wanted psoriasis so badly in my life!" Bridges said, as the audience erupted into laughter. (The test came back positive for psoriasis, by the way.)
Centered on volunteers
The National Volunteer Conference, held every two years to celebrate and mobilize the NPF's volunteers, was held in conjunction with the Research Symposium. The Symposium attracted 115 medical professionals and researchers studying psoriatic disease; the Volunteer Conference had more than 200 attendees.
Holding both events at the same time allowed researchers and patients to cross paths multiple times throughout the weekend.
On Saturday, July 25, patients and researchers were seated together at a luncheon to discuss hot topics in psoriasis research—such as nail psoriasis, the human microbiome and alternative medicine. Paul Dellorusso, a volunteer for San Francisco who attended the Research Symposium and the Volunteer Conference, said he enjoyed hearing first-hand about the latest research.
"I thought the lunch was very special, a really unique opportunity to get a group of researchers, doctors and patients around a table and have a candid conversation about topics that are really important to patients," Dellorusso said. "I hope that was helpful to the researchers and physicians as well, but I know a lot of patients got a lot out of that."
'We're all winners'
Ten Psoriasis Foundation volunteers were nominated for the Outstanding Volunteer Leadership Award. Bridges was one of four finalists. The other three were Waterford, Michigan resident Jaime Moy (follow Moy on Twitter @JaimeLynMoy); Stony Brook, New York resident Todd Bello (follow on Twitter @tvsoccerdad) and Columbus, Ohio residents Jason and Rachel Lichten.
Watch the award ceremony and learn more about the four finalists.
Bridges became involved with the Psoriasis Foundation after a blog post she wrote about "coming out of the closet" about her psoriasis caught the attention of NPF staff. Bridges credits the Foundation for giving her the platform to speak out about her disease.
She congratulated her fellow award nominees.
"Technically, we are all winners, because we have beat something that we believed could have defeated us," she told the award audience.