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Sep 18

Elkins family continues fight for meningitis awareness

Posted on September 18, 2017 at 3:04 PM by Holly Hollman

Elkins family with Mayor Marks

The Jessica Elkins family continues its fight for meningitis awareness in her memory. The Athens High cheerleader died from the disease, and her family has turned that tragedy into a mission to save other children.

To salute the family's efforts, Athens Mayor Ronnie Marks has declared Sept. 23, 2017, as Meningitis Awareness Day in Athens to coincide with the Jessica Elkins 5K. The family uses funds raised at events such as the 5K to fund vaccination clinics, educational information, and a scholarship.

Here is the proclamation:


WHEREAS:  The City of Athens recognizes the importance of Meningitis Awareness; and

WHEREAS:  Meningitis is an inflammation of the meninges, the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord.  It is usually caused by bacterial or viruses, but it can also be caused by certain medications or illnesses; and

WHEREAS:  Bacterial meningitis is rare, but is usually serious and can be life threatening if it’s not treated right away; and

WHEREAS:  Viral meningitis is relatively common and far less serious.  It often goes undiagnosed because its symptoms are a lot like the common flu.

WHEREAS:  People who are usually healthy can get meningitis.  Although the risk of getting meningitis increases in teens and young adults; and

WHEREAS:  Kids of any age can get meningitis, but common everyday activities can spread meningococcal disease.  This includes kissing, sharing utensils and drinking glasses, living in close quarters such as a dormitory or summer camp, and smoking or being exposed to smoke.  Activities can make teens feel run down may also put them at greater risk for meningitis by weakening their immune system.  These include staying out late and having irregular sleeping patterns; and

WHEREAS:  Each year, meningococcal disease strikes nearly 3,000 Americans, and 10 to 12 percent of those will die.  Up to 20 percent of survivors have long-term disabilities, such as brain damage, hearing loss, or limb amputations.

WHEREAS:  You can’t watch your teen every minute of every day.  But you can help protect your children from meningococcal disease (which includes meningitis) by getting them vaccinated. 

NOW, THEREFORE, I, William R. Marks, Mayor of Athens,

by virtue of the authority vested in me

do hereby proclaim September 23, 2017, as


in this city, and in so doing, urge all citizens to join in a national effort to raise awareness about the

importance of this disease.