The Laurita Spina Bifida Project to launch at Hispanicize 2016

Why, yes. It has indeed been a while.

Mea culpa. I may not have been fully “present” on Holdin’ Out for a Hero, but please rest assured…incredible things have been happening behind the scenes– miracles, actually!

Today, after 19 years of wishing, learning, waiting, and hoping, after years of prayers, all answered, not all in the way I anticipated, after much hard work and informal advocacy, it’s happening.

My non-profit organization, The Laurita Spina Bifida Project, is launching today during Hispanicize 2016– in Miami, no less.

Don’t pinch me, please. I don’t want to wake up!

It’s been a long time coming. I mean, really. I remember growing up thinking that starting any kind of organization– for-profit or non-profit– required wealth, and lots of it.

I remember wondering why I wasn’t rich and able to fulfill my dream.

I remember writing my first letter to Oprah Winfrey, and pouring my heart into it, asking her to shoot an episode about spina bifida. And I remember very clearly the polite “no, thank you” letter I received from The Oprah Winfrey Show– at age eleven.

Sometimes I wonder why I just didn’t give up and pursue a different path. I believe anyone with spina bifida can be just about anything within some reason. I could have done anything.

Instead, I chose the road less traveled. The one that hadn’t been trodden before– the one I had to pave myself.

But I haven’t walked it alone. Oh, no. There have been angels. Dozens, hundreds, perhaps thousands of them. And they carried me on their wings whenever I was too exhausted, too angry, too bitter from the failed efforts to keep flying.

It is now that I realize it. My “failures” weren’t failures at all– they were practice; my boot camp. With teachers, mentors, trainers, fellow advocates, cheerleaders, I worked through these failures and got up again.

My initial vision was to host a launch event at a restaurant in Orlando, close to where I live. Instead, I am in the heart of Downtown Miami, surrounded by fellow bloggers, journalists, entertainers, photographers, marketers, and seasoned non-profit industry veterans. Many of these are people I call very close friends.

In retrospect, I cannot imagine launching my precious childhood dream anywhere else, surrounded by so many of the people who are actually helping to make it happen!

Today, as I prepare to meet friends, family, and colleagues for Happy Hour at Toro Toro Miami and our extended community on Twitter at 5:00 p.m., I’m sure we’ll have a lot of last-minute details to think of.

As for me, I’ll also be reflecting on everyone, everything, every incredible moment that has brought me– us– here.

Today, I finally know it was all for good.

Please join us today on Twitter using the hashtags #TheLSBProject and #SpinaBifida (#EspinaBífida para español, también). Be sure to RSVP here to be eligible to win some awesome prizes!

And if you’d like to contribute to our crowdfunding campaign, that’s here.

To see the fabulous press release that my friends and colleagues at Hispanicize Wire published about our launch, please click here.


Till tonight! And…thank you. 



A Different Campaign Continues

Yes, I know there are other things going on today. Namely, one big thing— the most historic presidential election in U.S. history. Don’t think I’ve forgetten; I’ve already voted! 😉

But after weeks of being bombarded on both my Facebook and Twitter feeds with political post after political (or apolitical) post, I wanted to take a breather and reflect on the awesomeness that was October.

The beginning of November marked the end of Spina Bifida Awareness Month for this year. To say it was a smashing success would be the understatement of the century– we killed it! 

But the campaign isn’t over. Yes, the Walk-N-Roll donation link is still active. Please share, and donate away!

There are so many issues at stake besides prevention– quality of life for children and adults alike, educating Ob/Gyns about the facts on spina bifida so they can give impartial but encouraging information to expectant parents, and not to mention those with spina bifida all over the world, many who might not be as fortunate as we are to have such a strong community.

I know I’ve thanked you over the past few weeks for all your support– but there are a few people and organizations that I would like to reiterate my thanks to.

First, I need to thank Bravo! Cucina Italiana for their support and for providing the location for my local fundraiser for the Walk-N-Roll for Spina Bifida. We raised $120 that night, and we also raised awareness!

Also, I want to take the time in this post to personally thank each and every one of the sponsors, bloggers, and supporters of the very first Walk-N-Roll for Spina Bifida Twitter Party I co-hosted on October 17th.


Chantilly Patiño was the driving force that organized, planned, coordinated and then hosted the Twitter chat. She also sought out sponsors, got us donations for prizes raffled during the Twitter party, and wrote up the script and designed the promotional graphics. Have I said THANK YOU? Not enough!! Chantilly has indeed become a wonderful friend, fellow advocate, and key supporter of my spina bifida campaign.

Chantilly also took it upon herself to help me moderate the Spina Bifida Advocacy Network, which we officially launched during the Twitter party. Currently, our group boasts nearly 500 members and growing!

When all was said and done, our jaws dropped collectively when the Twitter party report revealed we had nearly 2 million impressions! A truly miraculous, magical night for the Spina Bifida cause.

Now, it’s time to really recognize all the sponsors/organizations that made it happen. I encourage you all to visit their Web sites and support them in whatever way you can!



Whether they blogged about the awareness campaign, donated a prize for the Twitter party, co-hosted the party with us, or simply sent us good vibes, all of these sponsors now deserve to be showered with love!

A very special thanks goes out to Latino Rebels for immediately following up the Twitter conversation with a TweetReach report showing that social media can make a difference for a great cause!



I could never thank them enough for taking that extra step to ensure everyone understands the significance of that night!


So yes…a very special election is taking place today in the U.S. I’ve already voted, and I hope you get out to vote, too! But as far as my preferences and values are concerned…my vote goes out to the Spina Bifida cause. I believe in it, and I hope you’ve come to believe in it as strongly as I do.

Yes, October is over. But now the real work begins– which is to keep spina bifida in the public eye, and in the minds and hearts of everyone.



Laurita ♥