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Four years ago, my friend and former co-worker, Tammy Futterman, stood by and watched her oldest child, 19 year old Rachel, die. It was a shock to the family and friends, as only a week before (well even just five days before) Rachel had been a happy, healthy college sophomore at USF.

She had started feeling like she had the flu on Friday, and was quite sick by Friday night. On Saturday, her friends were so concerned that they took her to the emergency room. At that point, she started having seizures, and there was very little that could be done except to contact her family, who now lived in Texas, to come and say goodbye.

Tammy Futterman now is working to get the word out that her daughter didn’t have to die, if only she’d been vaccinated against meningitis. Tammy is working hard to get her message out to others. She has appeared on news programs in Texas, there is a Facebook cause, and, due in part to her efforts, the state of Florida now requires either the vaccination or a signature expressing the desire to opt-out of the vaccine knowing the seriousness of the disease. USF has changed its policy to require all on-campus students to be vaccinated.

Rachel was only one year older than The Older W, and they had played together occasionally when they were young and met at picnics, Wet ‘N Wild, and other company functions for our families.

So in honor of Rachel’s too-short life, get your teens vaccinated against meningitis. If your kids are older and have their own kids, please make sure that they get the word about the dangers of meningitis.

I want Tammy’s tears and continued efforts to have positive results. She feels very strongly that other parents should be spared from the grief that she has had to endure. Thanks for your time. And please say a prayer or spend a quiet moment today in memory of Rachel.

For more information, please see the National Meningitis Association website.

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