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.
- VBF Global Ambassador Facebook Group. With almost 800 members!
- Vascular Birthmarks Awareness Video on TV. Airs nationally on PBS (Public Broadcasting Service).
- Global Ambassador Awareness Video Project. Question and Answer with VBF Global Ambassadors.
- Global Ambassador Training. Required training for all VBF Global Ambassadors.
- Volunteer Release. Required release for all VBF Global Ambassadors.
- Want to learn more about the VBF Global Ambassadors? For any questions or feedback, please contact:
Director, VBF Global Ambassador Program
Search Our Ambassadors
Tim Russell, United States, Michigan
I’m 42 years old, and my PWS birthmarks cover 75% of my body. I used to struggle with having them until I was 14. Since then I’ve embraced them. I love standing out, and letting people know I don’t care. My kids friends think I’m awesome. They love coming over and hanging out with me. I joined the Ambassadors to let people know that it is okay to be different.
Toreion Angeletti, United States, Louisiana
My Name is Toreion I am from New Orleans Louisiana. My Son Zaiden Is 8 years Old He Was Born With Capillary Lymphatic Venous Malformation.
Tracy Moreno, United States, California
Growing up with a birthmark wasn’t easy. I was teased a lot, and it made me self-conscious. Over the years, I grew to love my birthmark which plays a big role in becoming an Ambassador. I want to show others who have vascular birthmarks that it’s okay to be different, and to be proud of what makes us unique!
Trina Constable, Canada, None
This is Jersie who just turned 5 years old! She was born with a vascular hemangioma on her right shoulder. Although she doesn’t quite understand what is on her shoulder, she does get quite upset when people make rude comments about it. Our hope is to educate people. We welcome positive questions instead of comments like ‘ewe that’s gross,’ or ‘why don’t you just remove it,’ or ‘It’s a shame you’d wear a tank top on her considering it could so easily be covered.’ Our hope for Jersie is that she never feels ashamed or bullied because of her vascular birthmark.
Trista Burke, United States, Massachusetts
When Gavyn was first born, the pediatrician at the hospital told my husband and me that the redness on his face and head wasn’t bruising from the delivery, but was a Port-Wine Stain Birthmark. She gave us a quick overview but wanted to wait to talk to his normal pediatrician and go from there. That evening we did our own research and learned that every birthmark is individually unique, just like the person who is born with it.
Some birthmarks are small, some are large; some can be dark, some can be light. Depending on where the birthmark is, it can cause other medical issues. One main medical concern with Gavyn’s birthmark, since part of it is over his eye, is that he can develop glaucoma. We see an ophthalmologist every year to be proactive regarding this concern.
Another concern was the psychological effects Gavyn’s birthmark could have on him as he grew older. Would kids bully him because he is different? We didn’t know if he would wear his birthmark as a badge of honor or if it would make him self-conscious. After consulting with a few dermatologists, my husband and I decided that laser treatments to help reduce the redness of Gavyn’s birthmark would be best for him. Four years later, I’m really glad that we made the decision we did.
In March 2016 Gavyn had his first laser treatment. Both my husband and I were nervous wrecks the whole 20 minutes he was having the procedure done. Over the course of the rest of the year, Gavyn underwent five more treatments. Each one was easier than the last, except the final one. He was 18 months old at that point, and I think by then he became more aware of what was going on. We were happy with the results and came to the conclusion that if he wants to have more laser treatments in the future, it would be up to him.
Valerie Beckstrand, United States, Utah
My daughter (Chloe) was born with various venous malformations including a large PWS across her chest and right arm. We’ve done the best we can with our doctors at Primary Children’s Hospital, and Chloe is doing well despite her challenges. After numerous rounds of sclerotherapy, she’s left with microcystic hygromas and other various venous malformations. I’m thrilled to find this foundation and hope to connect with others!
Vallery Bergquist, United States, Idaho
When I was born in 2008, the doctors had no idea what was wrong with me they had never seen it before and I was life flighted to Primary children’s care in Utah and there was diagnosed with kts and a vascular malformation on my right leg. Since then I have had six sclero therapy treatments and two surgeries to match my legs to be the same height. I wear a compression stoking daily to help with swelling and for two years I took sirolmous to help with the symptoms. I do struggle with pain sometimes but I now enjoy white water rafting, boating, and I am dancer at Pivotal dance company.
Vanessa Wuergler, Brazil, None
My name is Vanessa and I was born with a Port Wine Stain birthmark on both legs, my right arm and parts of my torso. Due to being misdiagnosed at birth (my parents were told it would fade over time), I did not start laser treatments until I was six years old. I received over 75 treatments within 6-7 years with only small improvements. After developing skin ulcers (and ultimately had a skin graft) from severe scarring on my shins – I decided to stop all treatment. However, a few years ago, I began laser treatments once again and have seen some great results!
Growing up, I dealt with low self-esteem and so many insecurities. Now, as an adult, I am learning to love my birthmark and have found strength and positivity in my uniqueness. I am so excited to help raise awareness for VBF and vascular birthmarks!
Vince Ragucci, United States, Delaware
Growing up with a port wine stain was never easy. It was confusing and challenging, as I didn’t quite understand why I was different or why this red patch on my neck and cheek became darker every year and grew in size. I received laser treatments up until I was 10, then stopped treatment for 10 years. My port wine stain became hypertrophic, growing in size on my cheek and thickening. After seeking treatment again, I discovered the VBF and Dr. Gregory Levitin. This discovery and doctor have changed my life. One thing that must be stressed is monitor changes in your PWS and maintenance is so so important.