Burn Survivor, Activist to Speak at 2018 Spirit of Courage
The annual Spirit of Courage awards event is produced by the local Burn Prevention Network and sponsored by Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) and Valley Preferred, the preferred provider organization affiliated with LVHN. The event, which honors those who have risked their lives to try to save others from burn injury or death – as well as a burn survivor who has gone on to help others in the burn community – attracts nearly 1,000 firefighters, EMTs, police officers, and business people from the Lehigh Valley and across the state of Pennsylvania. Proceeds from the event benefit LVHN’s Regional Burn Center.
Guest speaker Natalia Ponce de Leon will relay her own story as a victim of an acid attack at age 33. She will discuss how the experience spawned a desire to help others and to advocate for stiffer penalties for perpetrators. She succeeded in changing the laws in Colombia, which has the highest per capita rate of acid attacks on women in the world, and went on to establish the Foundacion Natalia Ponce de Leon. The organization provides advice and psychological and legal assistance to those who have been attacked with chemical agents, offering them a better quality of life, and contributing to their re-integration to their family, labor, and social environment without regard to their social situation, religion, or race.
Ponce de Leon’s visit to the United States is sponsored by Bio Med Sciences, a Lehigh Valley firm that delivers leading technology to the burn treatment, plastic surgery, and aesthetic skin-care markets. The facemask, which has become the symbol of Natalie’s fight against acid attacks, was developed by Bio Med Sciences. “While the company is proud that for decades its burn care products have helped people around the world, nothing makes Bio Med prouder than to support Natalia in building upon her success in Colombia and turning it into a global effort,” says Mark Dillon, President and CEO.
Before heading for the Spirit of Courage, Ponce de Leon will be at UN headquarters in New York City on September 26, proposing “Spotlight on: Femicide in Latin America” to the General Assembly of the United Nations, the UN’s annual policy-making session. Later in the year, she will meet with members of the International Society for Burn Injuries in India, where acid attack legislation was introduced only as recently as 2017.
Click to view Natalia Ponce De Leon Foundation's The Last Mask
About Burn Prevention Network
The Burn Prevention Network is a regional 501(c) 3 non-profit organization currently serving 22 counties throughout eastern Pennsylvania and Warren County, New Jersey. The Burn Prevention Network mission is to provide burn prevention and fire safety education to and advocacy for those at greatest risk of burn injuries.
About Lehigh Valley Health Network’s Regional Burn Center
Lehigh Valley Health Network's Regional Burn Center is one of only 58 nationwide verified by the American Burn Association and American College of Surgeons. To receive this designation, a burn center must meet rigorous standards regarding personnel qualification, facilities, resources and medical services. The center provides inpatient and outpatient care for adults and children from the point of injury through the rehabilitation process.