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WebMD Announces 2012 Health Heroes

NEW YORK, Nov. 13, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- WebMD Health Corp. (Nasdaq: WBMD), the leading source of health information, today announced its 2012 WebMD Health Heroes award winners. Now in its seventh year, WebMD's Health Heroes awards celebrate extraordinary Americans who met a health challenge and gave back to others in an inspiring way. This year's nominees include extraordinary people who pushed past adversity with passion, inspiration, and innovation and extended health solutions and support to others.

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"WebMD health heroes are inspiring individuals who encourage health and wellness in each of their communities," said Clare Martorana, Editor in Chief, WebMD the Magazine. "We are excited to celebrate their continued achievements and support their goals to make an impact in the lives of those facing their own health challenges."

This year, WebMD Health Heroes were awarded $2,500 each to use for their foundation or project. The 2012 WebMD Health Heroes are:

A Leading Advocate for Lung Cancer Patients

Bonnie Addario was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2003. After months of difficult treatments, Addario, 65, recovered and decided to help others survive the disease. Lung cancer research receives a fraction of the funding other cancer research attracts. In 2006, she set up the Bonnie J. Addario Foundation from her home in San Carlos, Calif., to raise awareness of lung cancer and money for research. To date, her foundation has raised $10 million.

In an effort to help in the fight to increase survival among cancer patients, Addario launched a second nonprofit, the Addario Lung Cancer Medical Institute, which developed bio-repositories in California and Colorado now used by scientists and doctors at 17 institutions in the United States and Europe for joint research. The bio-repositories offer tissue, blood, and plasma samples from lung cancer patients that researchers can study in their pursuit for a cure.  

Raising Awareness of Epilepsy

Richard and Debra Siravo suffered a devastating loss in 1998 when their 5-year-old son, Matty, died after a prolonged epileptic seizure. Matty's seizure occurred after brain surgery to reduce the epilepsy symptoms he'd had since infancy.

Rather than succumb to grief or anger, Deb­ra and Richard decided to help others. Starting in their basement in Wake­field, R.I., they set up The Matty Fund to provide information and resources to other families dealing with epilepsy.

Since its inception, the fund has raised $1.5 million and provides workshops, support groups, a therapeutic horseback riding camp, epilepsy awareness programs in schools, and money for scholarships and epilepsy research.

A Community-Wide Weight Loss Challenge 

Two years ago, Bonnie Stehr was motivated to lose 50 pounds. She devised a plan to hold a weight loss challenge, complete with cash prizes and fund-raising for a charity. Excited, she took her idea to her boss at Therapeutic Associates in Port Angeles, Wash., a physical therapy clinic.

The two women partnered with a nurse practitioner from Volunteers in Medicine of the Olympics (VIMO), which raises money for health services for under- and uninsured patients. Together, the team set up the 90-day Olympic Weight Loss Challenge. One hundred twenty-four community members signed up, donating $100 each. They jointly lost 1,256 pounds. With the contests success, they decided to do a second round the following year, which attracted 90 people, who jointly lost 534 pounds and raised another $1,250 for VIMO.

Fighting Pesticides in Schools

In 1998, a school gardener inadvertently sprayed Robina Suwol's 6-year-old son and other children with pesticides as they walked into their Sherman Oaks, Calif., elementary school. Her son's resulting asthma attack prompted Suwol to investigate pesticide use in the Los Angeles Unified School District. She discovered LAUSD used 160 pesticides, many linked to learning disabilities, cancer, asthma, and other illnesses in children and adults.

Rather than focus on one school, Suwol took on the whole district -- no small task, given that LAUSD, with 1,000 school sites, is the country's second largest. Over the next year, Suwol's program, California Safe Schools, a coalition of parents, teachers, medical experts, and scientists, helped LAUSD adopt the most stringent pesticide policy in the nation, banning all products lacking safety records. Two years later, the California Legislature passed the Healthy Schools Act of 2000, which mandates parents' right to know about the pesticides schools use. The passing of AB 405 (Montanez), banning school districts from using experimental pesticides followed soon after.

To learn more about WebMD Health Heroes, visit WebMD's Health Heroes are featured in the November/December issue of WebMD the Magazine and online at The article is also available through WebMD the Magazine's free iPad® app in Apple's newsstand. WebMD will accept nominations for the 2013 Health Heroes in January.

About WebMD

WebMD Health Corp. (NASDAQ: WBMD) is the leading provider of health information services, serving consumers, physicians, health care professionals, employers, and health plans through our public and private online portals, mobile platforms, and health-focused publications.

The WebMD Health Network includes WebMD Health, Medscape, MedicineNet, eMedicineHealth, RxList,, Medscape Education, and other owned WebMD sites.

SOURCE WebMD Health Corp.

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