Devan McGuinness, publisher of the blog, Unspoken Grief, was named the winner of the 2012 Bloganthropy Awards. Debbie Bookstaber, co-founder of Bloganthropy.org, announced the winner at the eighth annual BlogHer conference. “Each year, the Bloganthropy Awards recognize amazing women who have galvanized online support for their causes and built communities of people who share their concerns,” says Bookstaber.
McGuinness, the mother of three living children and 12 babies lost through miscarriages and stillbirth, started her blog as a means of helping other families wade through the challenges associated with perinatal and neonatal loss. Additionally, she posts on a secondary blog, www.accustomedchaos.org, and on Disney’s Babble.com, as well as other social media outlets to provide support for and give a voice to grieving parents around the world.
This is the first time the Bloganthropy Awards were held at BlogHer, the world’s largest conference for women in social media. Founded in 2009 by Debbie Bookstaber and Candace Lindemann of Mamanista.com, with pro-bono support from Child’s Play Communications, a public relations agency exclusively focused on the influential mom market, the unique awards program is dedicated to recognizing women bloggers who support good causes.
In addition to Devon McGuinness, a special Bloganthropy Achievement Award was given to Kristine Brite McCormick. Kristine was recognized as a Bloganthropy Awards Finalist in 2010 for the creation of Cora’s Story, a blog that chronicles her thoughts and feelings surrounding the unexpected 2009 death of her newborn daughter from an undetected congenital heart defect (CHD). Kristine is now a sought-after author, advocate and speaker on both a national and global level who has testified before federal advisory committees, state-level legislative committees, parent advocates, hospitals and physicians. Kristine successfully advocated for legislation in her home state of Indiana, which made pulse oximetry (newborn heart screening) law in April 2011. She continues to help grieving parents in other states work to make pulse oximetry the standard of care through her grassroots organization, Pulse Ox Advocacy.
In addition to McGuinness and McCormick, four finalists were recognized for making a difference in their communities using social media. They are:
Lisa Lightner, A Day in Our Shoes
A board certified special education advocate, Lisa’s son was diagnosed with Dup15Q at an early age. Inspired by him, she helps families navigate the overwhelming world of Special Education and the IEP process through her blog. Lisa was named a “2012 Advocate of the Year” by her local The Arc chapter and also serves as the social media/PR contact for the National Special Education Advocacy Institute.
Dresden Shumaker, Creating Motherhood
During the recent economic downturn, Dresden and her family found themselves homeless and in need of government assistance. After becoming self-sufficient, she started her blog as a way of helping other families navigate the welfare system and initiated the ‘In Times Like These’ series where guest bloggers could post, which built a greater sense of community. As a result of her efforts, Dresden has been asked to speak at the National Anti Hunger Policy convention in Washington D.C. and serve as an ambassador for Feeding America.
Emily Vanek, Colorado Moms
As a means of connecting and building a community of parents across Colorado, Emily started her blog in May 2005. When it started to gain traction and as its audience grew, Emily used Colorado Moms are a platform to draw attention to autism (her youngest child was diagnosed at an early age) and be an information resource to other families. A noted advocate for special needs children and their families, she is a regular contributor to 5minutesforSpecialNeeds.com, SavvySource.com and TimetoPlayMag.com where she writes a toy guide focusing on therapeutic uses for popular toys.
Gaby Dalkin and Maggy Keet, Food Blogger Bake Sale
A passionate cook, private chef and publisher of the blog What’s Gaby Cooking, Gaby Dalkin launched the Food Blogger Bake Sale in 2010 to spread the word about Share Our Strength’s Great American Bake Sale, a national campaign. Gaby inspired hundreds of bloggers, and the Food Blogger Bake Sale raised over $25,000 in 2011. In 2012, Maggy Keet of Bloggers Without Borders joined Gaby to expand the program, setting a fundraising goal of $50,000 and bake sales in all 50 states. With just one dollar entitling a child to 10 meals, the Food Blogger Bake Sale makes a significant impact in communities.
Previous winners of the Bloganthropy awards include Katherine Stone (2010) and Susan Niebur (2011). Stone writes Postpartum Progress, the most popular blog about postpartum depression and mental disorders. After her own feelings of loneliness and isolation after giving birth, she began actively encouraging other women battling postpartum depression, anxiety and psychosis. At 34, Susan Niebur was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer. She used her blog, Toddler Planet, and social networks to raise funds for research, create awareness of and educate women about inflammatory breast cancer. Niebur, who chronicled her illness and gave hope to millions of women, lost her life to the disease on February 6, 2012.