Texas College Student Organizing “Step Up for Vitiligo” Gala
College sophomore Medha Iyer was eight years old when she found the first spot of vitiligo on her foot. A decade later, she’s grown used to not only having vitiligo, but speaking up for the condition too. This spring, she’ll do just that as she helps organize the Step Up for Vitiligo Gala.
Raising awareness and funds for vitiligo research, the Step Up for Vitiligo Gala will be held at the University of Texas’ Austin campus Saturday, April 28. Organized by Alpha Epsilon Delta, a pre-health professional honor society, the event will feature dinner, live and silent auctions, and musical performances. Dr. Ammar Ahmed, dermatologist and member of the Global Vitiligo Foundation, will address current vitiligo research as the keynote speaker. Guests will also have the chance to hear from COVERGIRL’s new spokesmodel, Amy Deanna, and visit booths by cosmetic companies. All of the funds raised will go directly to the Global Vitiligo Foundation for research.
“We are hoping to raise awareness for vitiligo within the Austin community,” said Medha, a pre-medical student majoring in public health and member of Alpha Epsilon Delta. “I see this event as a way to bridge the gap between the community, patients, and medical professionals as a more inclusive approach to public health.”
For Medha, this event is just the next step in her efforts to raise awareness for vitiligo. In the eighth grade, she approached dermatologist and vitiligo specialist Dr. Amit Pandya at UT Southwestern, interested in helping with vitiligo research. A little young to be in the lab, she decided to start a vitiligo support group in the Dallas/Fort Worth area instead, hosting walkathons and informative meetings for more than five years, working in collaboration with Dr. Pandya and his team at UT Southwestern. This past summer, she started a project called Vitiligo: A Memoir to raise awareness about mental health issues associated with having a skin condition.
Despite being an active voice for vitiligo, her journey hasn’t always been easy. As a child, Medha was self-conscious about how others saw her, finding it difficult to make friends. In middle school, she was bullied and called names like “cow” and “Michael Jackson.” The experience took a toll on her mentally, but also instilled a desire to help remove the stigma surrounding vitiligo.
“Over the years, I have become confident in my own skin,” said Medha, who today has vitiligo on her knees, elbows, hands and face despite pursuing various treatments. “I want to be able to share this strength with others who have the condition or any other personal battle.”
Learn more about the Step Up for Vitiligo Gala
The event, which is open to the public, will be held from 6-9 p.m. CST at the Texas Union Shirley Bird Perry Ballroom. Tickets are $15 for students and $30 for non-students. To learn more about the event, visit https://squareup.com/store/alpha-epsilon-delta-5/. For questions about the event, contact Medha at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo by Erin Volesky.
Erika Page is a writer and blogger with universal vitiligo. Her first spots appeared on her spine when she was seven years old and today vitiligo covers her entire body. Based just south of Washington, D.C., Erika founded Living Dappled to create a community of inspiration and hope for girls and women living with vitiligo.
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