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2015 Oley Award and Scholarship Winners
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2015 Oley Awards and Scholarship Winners

LifelineLetter Award, HPN

Rosaline Wu

Sponsored by Nutrishare, Inc., Silver Circle Partner

Rosaline Wu 

This award is given annually to a person who has been a home parenteral nutrition (HPN) consumer for five years or longer, or his or her caregiver, who demonstrates courage, perseverance, a positive attitude in dealing with illness or caregiving, and exceptional generosity in helping others in their struggle with HPN. 


Rosaline Wu was born with Hirschsprung’s disease. Her parents were told she would probably not survive long after her birth, and they made many sacrifices throughout her childhood and teenage years to keep her alive. They raised a strong woman, who became very determined to be independent, to make her own way, and to help others. Many years later, willing to share her story to benefit others, Rosaline wrote an article titled “My Parents Took Me Home to Die,” which was published in the Ostomy Quarterly magazine in 1980. “All the stories that I had read about Hirschsprung’s were the same,” she says. “‘The baby was born with it, and after one or two surgeries the child is now fine.’ That was NOT my story! I wanted to tell people, ‘You can still have a normal life, but you may have to go through more than what you were told.’” Later, Rosaline was diagnosed with pseudo-obstruction. She was put on HPN in 1989 and in 1992 wrote a second story for the Ostomy Quarterly about these new experiences.


Rosaline’s desire to help others, especially those with GI disorders, has brought her close to the Oley Foundation, where she has volunteered as an Oley Ambassador (formerly Regional Coordinator) since 1992. In the 1990s, she and other volunteers ran a local Oley support group in the Detroit area. They met monthly, with guest speakers addressing issues important to HPEN consumers and caregivers. Rosaline would put together a newsletter after each meeting to share with local members who could not attend. That group disbanded in 2002, but last year Rosaline reorganized a group for the Detroit–Ann Arbor area. They have had several meetings, and have discussed everything from drug shortages to estate planning. Rosaline says, “I am always asking our members for subjects that are of interest to them.…At our meetings we have members of different ages. Our eldest member is ninety-one years young and Joshua is going on three years old….My desire in life,” she continues, “is to help anyone with severe nutritional or digestive problems. I am always striving to achieve this goal.”


Rosaline also seeks to enjoy her life. She loves to go to the movies with her husband and daughter. “After the theater,” Rosaline explains, “we go out for dinner—mainly for my husband’s and my daughter’s benefit. I can only eat a small amount of food. As [my husband] Bill will tell you, I’m a cheap date!” Congratulations Rosaline!

Meenakshi Aggarwal, Megan Gravenstein, Janet Lewis, Jennifer Thiesse

LifelineLetter Award, HEN

Janet Platt

Sponsored by Abbott Nutrition, Benefactor Level Partner

Janet Platt


This award is given annually to a person who has been a home enteral nutrition (HEN) consumer for five years or longer, or his or her caregiver, who demonstrates courage, perseverance, a positive attitude in dealing with illness or caregiving, and exceptional generosity in helping others in their struggle with HEN.

Janet Platt, who has been attending Oley conferences with her brother, Sanford Schimel, since Sanford got his first tube in 2005, is this year’s recipient. Janet is a go-getter, helping Sanford with his medical needs, and known for her perseverance and outgoing nature. Janet says, “Having tubes is not going to keep Sanford from working or dating or traveling … and I will fight each and every one of those battles alongside him as needed.”

“God bless the hospital social worker who told me about Oley when he got his first tubes, a J and a G, and thought his life was over,” Janet says. “Only three weeks after that lifesaving surgery, I dragged him against his will to [an Oley conference in] Saratoga Springs, New York, and we had our eyes opened. And we learned a lot of new vocabulary words: stoma, HEN and PEN and TPN, g-tube and j-tube and port.”

This summer was the first Oley conference Janet and Sanford were unable to attend. They were missed—especially at the silent auction, where Janet has faithfully volunteered at checkout.

“She’s seen me at my worst,” Sanford writes, “as when I lost 40 pounds before the tube was inserted. She’s been by my side for subsequent illnesses, such as viral meningitis. And she was the person who figured out that the first combination tube I got was for bedridden patients rather than ambulatory ones because I couldn’t figure out how to make it stop spewing intestinal fluid.”

Janet loves traveling. She has traveled extensively with work (Australia, Japan, Thailand, Russia, parts of Europe…) and with her husband (Scotland, Wales, Mexico, and other parts of Europe). She speaks English, Russian, German, “and a few words in lots of other languages.” She is fascinated by languages, she says, and volunteers teaching English as a second language (ESL) to senior citizens.

She also loves meeting people and getting to know them. Janet says, “Oley is an awesome venue for this, for finding people dealing with the same medical issues as you and then finding out how much else you have in common besides that.”


In addition to helping Sanford as needed, Janet and her husband give of their time and money to a variety of causes, including generous support of the Oley Foundation. For many years they have supported a first-time attendee travel grant for the Oley conference.


Janet writes, “Thank you Oley Foundation, for being there for all of us, and for this award.” Congratulations Janet! 


Taryn Fisher, JoAnna Gaumond, Shannon Gonsalves


Celebration of Life

Emma Tillman

In honor of Coram CVS/specialty infusion services, Gold Medallion Partner

Adult: Emma Tillman 


Emma Tillman, PharmD, PhD, is quietly determined, resourceful, and an inspiration to many. She lives in Memphis, Tennessee, where she works full time as an assistant professor in the Department of Clinical Pharmacy at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. She does research on intestinal epithelial barrier function in response to parenteral nutrition. In addition to studying the effects of parenteral nutrition, she lives a life, as she so aptly puts it, “fueled by parenteral nutrition.”

She says, “From a young age, I have been interested in science and innovation.” In middle school, she won a state invention fair and was featured in a book about young women inventing.

Currently, her work encompasses innovative biomedical research.

Dr. Tillman enjoys spending time outdoors, running, walking, exploring, and sitting by the pool in the summer. Prior to getting sick in 2011, she was an avid runner and had set a goal to run a marathon in every state. She would travel with friends to compete in races of various distances—from 5Ks to marathons. In 2012, Dr. Tillman traveled to Portland, Maine, to visit a friend. There she ran the L.L. Bean Firecracker 10K. This was her gateway race back into her running adventure, and she hasn’t stopped since. After developing a plan to address the vomiting, nutrition, and fluid and electrolyte imbalance associated with long-distance running, Dr. Tillman completed the San Francisco Marathon in 2014—raising over six thousand dollars for Oley!


In addition to running, Dr. Tillman has lots of other hobbies and interests that keep her busy. For one, she is an oboist. She earned her bachelor’s degree in oboe performance from Ball State University in 2002. She also loves to travel, and notes that she is fortunate to have some travel with her job. When going on a work trip, Dr. Tillman often extends her trip by one or two days to spend some time exploring.


Dr. Tillman grew up in Union City, Indiana, on a pig farm. Family is very important to her. She loves being Aunt Emma to her two-year-old niece, Emmaline, and is anxiously awaiting the arrival of her nephew, Tillman, this summer.

At the conference Dr. Tillman shared ideas on how HPEN consumers could deal with social situations that center around food. It was a popular topic and the discussions were lively. Dr. Tillman says, “Maybe sharing my story will inspire others to do what they love.” Congratulations, Dr. Tillman!

Nominees (adult and youth):

Wyatt Carr, Jana Daigle, Tiffany Dodd, Taryn Fisher, Sandra Hull, Mary Jeung, Tegan Watkins, Ally Winter


Celebration of Life

Natalie Wootten

In honor of Coram CVS/specialty infusion services, Gold Medallion Partner

Youth: Natalie Wootten


Natalie is seven years old. Her mother, Mary, writes, “When Natalie sets a goal for herself, she persists until she reaches that goal. Whether it’s bringing feeding tube awareness, learning to tie her shoes, learning to read, or dancing, she does not give up. She gives it her all, all the time. Her newest goal is learning to ride her bike!”

It is important to Natalie that people are kind and fair to others. During Feeding Tube Awareness Week in February, she gave presentations at school, to her Girl Scout troop, and to her ballet class. “At the end of her presentations,” Mary writes, “Natalie emphasized that children with tubes are just like all the other kids and urged her classmates to befriend all children that have tubes, wheelchairs, insulin pumps, braces, etc. My little six year old is preaching tolerance and acceptance to anyone who will listen. She is an inspiration to her family, teachers and friends.”

She is also a nurturer. “She takes pride in taking care of her family,” Mary writes, “nurturing us by preparing snacks, reading to us, and comforting us. If someone gets hurt she is the first to run for Band-Aids and ice packs.” Natalie has two younger brothers, Oliver and Quinn. She enjoys reading them bedtime stories and playing with them. “When Oliver was born and she met him for the first time,” her mom writes, “Natalie counted his fingers and toes. She then unwrapped his blanket, looked at his belly and asked where his ‘tubey’ was! She is always looking out for them.”

Natalie has been taking ballet at Albany Berkshire Ballet for two years. “She doesn’t walk, but dances everywhere she goes,” Mary says, and she “lights up the room with her spunky personality. She is a natural entertainer and loves making people laugh. She always has a new joke to tell, and enjoys putting on ‘shows’ that showcase her dancing and singing.”

“Natalie has been through a lot in her seven years of life,” Mary continues. “Even though she has almost daily stomach aches, tires easily and is smaller than her friends, she doesn’t let her circumstances get in her way. Nothing stops her! Her resilience amazes us every day.”


Congratulations, Natalie!

Nominees (adult and youth):

Wyatt Carr, Jana Daigle, Tiffany Dodd, Taryn Fisher, Sandra Hull, Mary Jeung, Tegan Watkins, Ally Winter

Child of the Year Award

In honor of ThriveRx, Gold Medallion Partner

Navaiah Fulk 

Navaiah Fulk


The Oley Child of the Year Award is given annually to a youth (18 years of age or younger) who has been an HPEN consumer for one year or longer and who shows a positive attitude in dealing with illness and HPEN which encourages and inspires others.


This year’s winner, Navaiah Fulk, is a courageous fourteen year old who was diagnosed with gastroschisis before she was even born, when her mother, sixteen weeks pregnant, had an ultrasound. Navaiah had her first surgery when she was four hours old, and her first transplant (small bowel and liver) in 2002 when she was thirteen months old. She received a second small bowel transplant in 2014.


Navaiah’s mom writes, “She had been very sick as we waited over a year for a call [about the transplant]. The morning of December 4, we got the call at 5:20 in the morning, and as we frantically got things ready to make the six-hour ride to [the hospital], Navaiah continuously reminded me that she was going to be okay, helping us keep calm and prepare for her surgery. She is such a courageous warrior!”


Oley member Ann Alford, a friend and admirer of Navaiah’s, writes, “Navaiah is one of the kindest, sweetest young ladies you will ever meet. Though she suffers every day, she always has a smile. She always wants to help and will do so no matter how she feels, good or bad.”

Another Oley member and friend to Navaiah, Robin Bodnar, writes, “I met Navaiah [when]…she was a patient [in hospital]….As we would do ‘laps’ with [our son] Andrew, walking in the halls, she would be in her doorway, cheering him on. Slowly we became friends. She would show us how to use the new accessories that Andrew now had. Even on the worst of days, she would be there smiling, and cheering on others….It was that wonderful smile that got us through our long days [in the hospital].”


Navaiah, says her mom, loves arts and crafts. “She enjoys anything…drawing, painting, rainbow loom, duct tape art. You name it she will master it!” Robin notes that when she was in the hospital, Navaiah would work on crafts and give them to others, “to make them smile.” During each of the past four years, Navaiah has been able to enjoy a week at the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Ashford, Connecticut. Her mom says it’s “magical….Navaiah is able to enjoy an amazing week of fun, friends, and camp without worrying about her chronic illness.”

Navaiah is a Cadette Girl Scout, and she is very excited by the prospect of attending high school next year. Although she was unable to attend this year’s conference, we send Navaiah our congratulations and look forward to meeting her!


Tori Bourland, Ellie Brogan, Rebecca Carnes, Wyatt Carr, Sergio Curkendall, Evelyn Delmenico, Arissa Dennis, Elena Dixon, Hope Knight, Sean May, Maddie Morris, Janessa Peck, Connor Poole, Dylan Prunty, Austin Rath, Alexandria Simoes, Logan Urbina, Tegan Watkins, Ally Winter, Natalie Wootten, Gabriella Zoppa



Innovator/Advocator Award

Shannon Gonsalves

In honor of BioScrip, Platinum Partner

Shannon Gonsalves

Presented for the first time in 2014, this award is given to an HPEN consumer or caregiver of any age who sets an example by promoting innovation in nutrition therapy or by advocating for themselves or someone in their care. Shannon Gonsalves, as a schoolteacher, mother, and co-founder and director of Tubie Friends™, advocates for our entire community as she helps raise awareness, compassion, acceptance, and understanding of the needs of others—especially including those who are dependent on tube feeding.

Shannon has been a full-time elementary school teacher for the last nineteen years, as well as a full-time wife and mother to a twelve-year-old daughter and nine-year-old son. Since birth, Shannon’s son has had medical challenges that have required hospitalization, surgeries, extensive tests, and a GJ-tube. In 2012, Shannon co-founded Tubie Friends, a nonprofit organization that was created to bring awareness and comfort to kids who are tube fed.

In talking about Tubie Friends, Shannon’s sister, Cristin Smock, says, “Children with feeding tubes often never see another tube fed person. They have a real need to relate to others like them, and Tubie Friends is an approachable way to meet that need.” She continues, “Individuals with disabilities need to know that they have a place in their community, not to just be tolerated. It is Shannon’s mission to make life a better place for her own son and for all individuals who stand out as different for any reason.”

Oley member Michele Juda notes, “Tubie Friends allows individuals to make both monetary donations and donations of excess supplies so children can be sponsored to receive a Tubie Friend at no charge. Community organizations, often those serving and involving children, have taken up the cause with events to stuff the…. animals that will become cherished friends and beloved companions, thereby increasing awareness, understanding, and compassion in the community at large. Other volunteers in this circle of support include the ‘surgeons’ who carefully place the medical equipment so each requesting child can have a Tubie Friend who looks just like them! I saw the difference this can make on a small scale when I presented my own son, still in a crib at the time, with a doll in which I had placed a Mic-Key g-tube. The look of recognition and joy that came over his face before pointing and saying ‘like me!’ will never be forgotten.”

Since 2012, Tubie Friends has expanded to include children and adults who have many types of tubes or medical equipment. In 2014, the organization sent out 2013 customized “friends”! Congratulations, Shannon!


Meenakshi Aggarwal, Peggy English-Vladyka, Taryn Fisher, Sanford Flach, Brenda Gray, Heidi Martin-Coleman, Linda May, Jennifer Rath, Candy Robero


Nan Couts Award for the Ultimate Volunteer

Lillian Harvey-Banchik, MD, FACS, CNSC

Inspired by Judy Peterson, RN, MS

Lillian Harvey-Banchik, MD, FACS, CNSC

The Nan Couts Award is presented annually to a clinician practicing in the HPEN or a related field who has shown a willingness to go “above and beyond” to educate, empower, and improve the life of HPEN consumers. Dr. Harvey-Banchik, who believes that patients deserve the best care at all times, dedicates her entire practice to providing nutritional support. She makes herself available to her patients, at least by phone, seven days a week (even while on vacation), and advocates for quality patient care in the legislative and insurance arenas.

Dr. Harvey-Banchik firmly believes that the best way to empower patients is to make sure they understand everything possible about their condition and how nutrition is used to treat it. She also believes that physicians need to gain a better understanding of how nutritional therapy is used. To that end, she has been involved with the National Board of Nutrition Support Certification (NBNSC) for over a decade.

As a member of the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition’s Public Policy Committee, she is engaged in activities to document issues patients have encountered with accessing care, the latest results being published in the May issue of Nutrition in Clinical Practice. She has also testified at a New York State Assembly hearing, and for the past three years has joined the Digestive Disease National Coalition, meeting with her representatives to discuss patient access to home infusion therapy.

Dr. Harvey-Banchik is a graduate of NYU School of Medicine. She completed a surgical residency at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York, NY. During her residency she spent a year doing a research fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center studying the effects of various diets on chemotherapy-induced GI disorders.

Dr. Harvey-Banchik believes in keeping abreast of the latest improvement and updates in nutritional care and tries to incorporate them into her practice as soon as they are proven. She has evaluated technology ranging from exercise bracelets to programs designed to remind patients to take their medications on schedule. She has presented programs she has developed at national meetings and makes the technology available to others for no cost as long as it is used for patient care.

Dr. Harvey-Banchik believes that life’s challenges must be faced head on. From an early age she has pushed the limits to prove there is little you cannot do if you’ve got the motivation to succeed. She tries to impart this philosophy to her patients to motivate them to live life to the fullest. Congratulations, Dr. Harvey-Banchik!


Jane Balint, MD; Meghan Dalton, NP; Peggi Guenter, PhD, RN, FAAN; Jeanne Harjo, RN; Claire McLaughlin, RN; Kevn McNamara, PharmD, CNSC, PRS, CVAA; Reid Nishikawa, PharmD, BCNSP, FCSHP; Sahar Whelan, RPh, BScPhm, MScPhm 


Kyle R. Noble Scholarship

Nicole C. Craig


Nicole C. Craig

The Oley Foundation is pleased to announce this year’s winner of the Kyle R. Noble Scholarship: Nicole C.Craig. This scholarship was established in memory of Kyle Noble to help further the educational goals of individuals relying on home parenteral and/or enteral nutrition (HPEN) for their primary nutritional needs and to recognize an HPEN consumer who embodies the qualities for which Kyle is remembered.


Nicole is thirty-one years old and has been dealing with chronic illness since she was a teenager. “For as long as I can remember,” she writes, “there have been two things in my life; first, always having health problems and getting sick a lot, and second, wanting to be a doctor or nurse.” Although it is still not understood the exact nature of her illness and the progressive loss of autonomic function, her diagnosis at this time is a suspected mitochondrial disorder. Nicole started on home parenteral nutrition (HPN) in July 2014 and additionally started home enteral nutrition (HEN) in October 2014. This does not keep Nicole down. She is a shining example to her patients and co-workers of what it means to live life every day to its fullest. Nicole, who is a busy RN, juggles her work schedule, school schedule, and health schedule brilliantly. Nicole is pursuing a master’s degree in nursing as a family nurse practitioner. She writes, “Once I become a family nurse practitioner, my goal is to work within a practice or eventually create my own practice where patient care can be individualized and tailored to each patient’s needs as well as providing patients with trained case managers, nutritionists, and pharmacists as well as using a multidisciplinary approach with other specialists.” We offer her our sincere wishes for success in the future. Congratulations Nicole!


We also want to congratulate all of the other scholarship applicants on their achievements and goals. We received many outstanding essays. Our only regret is that there can only be one winner. Please consider applying next year for the Kyle R. Noble Scholarship!

more Calendar

Oley exhibit at the Michigan Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (MSPEN)

Oley exhibit at the Florida Association for Vascular Access Network (FLAVAN)

2/6/2017 » 2/10/2017
Feeding Tube Awareness Week

This website is an educational resource. It is not intended to provide medical advice or recommend a course of treatment. You should discuss all issues, ideas, suggestions, etc. with your clinician prior to use. Clinicians in a relevant field have reviewed the medical information; however, the Oley Foundation does not guarantee the accuracy of the information presented, and is not liable if information is incorrect or incomplete. If you have questions please contact Oley staff.


Updated in 2015 with a generous grant from Shire, Inc. 


This website was updated in 2015 with a generous grant from Shire, Inc. This website is an educational resource. It is not intended to provide medical advice or recommend a course of treatment. You should discuss all issues, ideas, suggestions, etc. with your clinician prior to use. Clinicians in a relevant field have reviewed the medical information; however, the Oley Foundation does not guarantee the accuracy of the information presented, and is not liable if information is incorrect or incomplete. If you have questions please contact Oley staff.
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