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The Global Ambassadors are a network of advocates for the Vascular Birthmarks Foundation who work together to raise awareness about vascular birthmarks, anomalies, and related syndromes (VBARS) all while cultivating a supportive community. This network is comprised of people living with a vascular birthmark, as well as friends and family members who have a loved one affected by VBARS. We are organized into five fundamental committees, which are led by members of the VBF Global Ambassador Council. Our council is composed of the most active advocates within the Global Ambassador program who donate extra commitment time towards maintaining program engagement. Each committee initiative serves the purpose of expanding our reach and spreading awareness about VBARS, while supporting the mission of the VBF. Our committees consist of Regional & Virtual Meet Ups, Awareness, Fundraising, Ask/Accept Anti-Bullying, and the Parent Advocacy Network. The VBF Global Ambassador Program supports the VBF mission, provides helpful resources to our network, and amplifies Dr. Linda Rozell-Shannon’s vision.

Regional and Virtual Meet Ups organizes, facilitates, and encourages members of the VBF Global Ambassador community to connect through channels beyond social media such as Zoom meetings or in person local meet ups. 

Fundraising helps our community raise funds for VBF through online and in person events which goes towards our mission of networking those affected by a vascular birthmark, anomaly or related syndrome (VBARS) to the appropriate medical professionals for evaluation and possible treatment.

Awareness is designed to help educate, spread VBF resources as well as expand the VBF Global Ambassador program by connecting Ambassadors with areas of interest in the Vascular Birthmarks Foundation network.

Ask/Accept Anti-Bullying promotes a ‘Bully-Free’ zone and will raise awareness in regards to handling bullying, acceptance and provide support within the community.

Parent Advocacy Network is a safe space created to help navigate the journey for parents and families with children affected by VBARS.

Search this page to find someone local – or with whom you’d like to connect – to learn more about:

  • Physicians in your area who can help to medically manage vascular birthmark cases
  • Their experience living with a vascular birthmark
  • VBF’s Day/Month of Awareness, Put on Your Birthmark, Buddy Booby Read-Along, Ask/Accept anti-bullying, and other birthmark advocacy and awareness programs
  • Fundraising events in support of VBF – create a Birthday Fundraiser and get some awesome VBF Global Ambassador swag!
  • And much more!

If you or someone in your family has a birthmark and you’d like to speak with others who have had a similar experience, the Global Ambassadors can also help find personal support from other patients and families based on their own unique experiences.

NEWSLETTERS

AWARENESS

RESOURCES

CONTACT

  • Want to learn more about the VBF Global Ambassadors? For any questions or feedback, please contact:

Scott Cupples
Director, VBF Global Ambassador Program
scott@birthmark.org

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Michelle Daga, Australia, None

Michelle Daga is an Australian journalist, freelance writer, nutritionist, holistic pregnancy care practitioner and birth activist. And she happens to have a facial Port Wine Stain birthmark. Michelle realised she was different from a young age and was subjected to bullying throughout her primary and high school years.

Determined to complete her education and pursue her dream of writing, Michelle finished her schooling through distance education before landing her dream job as a cadet journalist. Since then, Michelle’s career has evolved and she has created several businesses using her own life experiences to help and inspire others.

Michelle also has coeliac disease and enjoys developing gluten free vegan recipes, supporting others with going gluten free, advocating for birthing rights, and spending time with her husband and infant son. As a survivor of bullying and domestic violence, Michelle is passionate about her role as a VBF Global Ambassador, sharing her story to support other people living with birthmarks, and raise awareness and acceptance in the global community.

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Michelle Johnson, United States, Texas

My name is Michelle Johnson and I live in Klein, Texas. I am married Ruth two children and work as a school nurse. I have a PWS birthmark that covers my left cheek (inside and out), above my left lip and left upper gum line.

I grew up being teased and feeling very different from my peers due to my red birthmark. At 18 years old I decided to seek laser treatment on my own, as my parents didn’t see the need to consider proper treatment, and my face was scarred by an unauthorized/painful laser technique. After this traumatizing event, I no longer felt comfortable leaving my face uncovered with makeup.

After I married and finished nursing school, I decided to revisit the option of laser treatment due to insecurities I carried. At this time I visited a more reportable doctor and underwent a minimally successful treatment. After having to pay a large deductible, I decided it wasn’t worth pursuing treatment.

Fast forward to 2021, I found Vascular Birthmarks Foundation on Facebook and felt an unmatched connection to this community and the freedom of sharing stories and experiences with my birthmark. Connecting and learning from others made me want to be more open and honest about my journey. I learned that the high pressures I kept having in my left eye was actually due to having my birthmark and how treatment would improve the integrity of my skin and health. With guidance from this foundation, I found Dr. Friedman and have received treatment and a plan that has been fully covered by insurance. I have discovered a new passion to help others in this vascular birthmark community and hope to volunteer and support others, young and old!

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Michelle Lai, United States, California

Hi everyone! My name is Michelle and I am 23 years old. I reside in Monterey Park, CA and am a recent graduate at UC Riverside. I have Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM) on the right side of my face. Before VBF, I was misdiagnosed, have been through numerous unsuccessful and traumatizing surgeries as a kid, and was hopeless. Frustrated with the cycle of doctors turning me away, referring me to other doctors and giving me and my family no clear direction in treating me, I neglected treatment for 7 years. It wasn’t until 2016 when I came across VBF. I am so grateful for the transformative surgeries Dr. Waner, Dr. O, and Dr. Berenstein have done for me over the last 3 years. Now that I am more knowledgeable about the available resources and treatments, I want to spread awareness to anyone with a vascular birthmark and provide a positive platform of acceptance, embracing differences, and educating others about vascular birthmarks through my experience living with one.

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Michelle Tuley, United States, Minnesota

My daughter Savannah developed three Hemangioma’s about 2 weeks after she was born. At her one week appointment my doctor told me not to worry about them and that the one on her head was just an angels kiss. A few days later they grew and quickly. She now regularly meets with a pediatric dermatologist and receives both oral and topical beta blockers. I’m so thankful I found so many great resources and support channels I want to be able to help others who don’t know where to look.

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Mihaela Boban, Croatia, None

Mother of a beautiful girl with a PWS on her left side of the face. At the beginning of our journey nobody knew what was on her face, we went to so many medical examinations with no luck. Thanks to VBF and support groups on Facebook, we found Dr. Linda and learned everything about our birthmark, and now we are seeing Dr. Geronemus in New York and finally we are satisfied that we are doing the best for our child. As a parent who did not know that PWS exist, we are very grateful and it is very important for us to share awareness.

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Mikaela Battaglia, United States, Pennsylvania

Hey y’all! My name is Mikaela. I have dealt with my birthmark ups & downs my entire life. I had laser treatments from the time I was a baby to the age of 14. I really struggled with loving myself & finding my own sense of confidence for a long long time. I would spend 2-3 hours DAILY covering my birthmark with makeup, and avoid any activities that didn’t allow me to wear makeup. I hid my PWS for a long time, before finally taking a make-up free selfie for social media.

I made the decision that I did not want to be held back in life all because of what people may (or may not) think of me. I am me, I am beautiful and I have a story and a purpose to share with the world. I am happily married, love baking, and also spend a lot of time making art that spreads awareness about VBF.

 

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Mikayla Patava, Austria, None

I was born with a large internal hemangioma under my right eye. I spent most of my early years seeing specialists and having corrective surgery to stop me going cross-eyed. I never really felt like I could communicate with anyone my age or older about my hemangioma because no one really understood. I want to be that person for others now that I am in my 20s. Although my hemangioma is almost unnoticeable now, it still impacts my everyday life. I get extreme pain in my eye almost everyday, so I would love to help others that go through the same experiences I do. 

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Molly Broadus, United States, Kentucky

Our daughter Hadley is 6 months old. When she was born her right eye was swollen shut and had red markings on her eye lid and forehead, we were told it was just bruising and the way she was positioned. The next day a neonatal doctor informed us about Sturge Weber Syndrome and that her eye could possibly be bulging due to glaucoma. Hadley was 3 days old when she arrived at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, I will never forget sobbing in the exam chair as her ophthalmologist tried examining her swollen eye. He believed that she had a hemangioma in her eyelid and her eye looked healthy with slight pressure. Days later she was in surgery for a biopsy and about 2 months ago she received an orbitonomy to remove as much of the mass as they could. Hadley has a rare vascular tumor that expanded from her eyelid all the way to her skull along with the most beautiful port wine stain. She continues to be monitored by doctors and will start her laser treatments soon. As of today she does not have a clear diagnosis.

Before Hadley I had never seen or noticed a port wine stain nor heard of the term hemangioma. I currently teach first grade and taught special education prior. I received my Masters Degree in moderate and severe disabilities, not once heard about Sturge Weber Syndrome. My world has changed for the better and am blessed with the sweetest girl. The first few months with Hadley I felt alone and afraid. I am forever grateful for this foundation which has supported my family and I in so many ways.

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Moran Barzam, Israel, None

My daughter was born with PWS in her right hand, back & chest. We started the laser treatment when she was 3 weeks old. When she was 2 months old, her right hand became bigger then her left hand and after some tests they told us that she has a lymphedema problem in here hand.

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Morgan Arrowsmith, United States, Georgia

My name is Morgan I am 26 years old I’m from Georgia, and I have a port wine stain birthmark on the right side of my face. I also have SWS. I was diagnosed with SWS at 3months old.

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