Today, we remember an amazing woman and the founder of the Lupus Foundation of America, Connecticut Chapter, Marilyn Sousa. With her passion and determination, Marilyn dedicated her life to making a difference in the lives of so many suffering from the cruel mystery of lupus. On the one year anniversary of her passing we look back on her life of advocacy and remember her wonderful spirit!
Marilyn founded the Connecticut Chapter over 42 years ago. With its humble beginnings, Marilyn, a lupus patient herself, held small support group meetings in her living room. In May 1973, the Lupus Foundation of America, Connecticut Chapter was officially founded. Marilyn and her husband Gordon were also extremely influential in the founding of the Lupus Foundation as a national organization. She served on the Foundation’s national board of directors for many years and held several officer positions. In addition, she served as chair and liaison for our chapter’s Medical Scientific & Advisory Council. Her dedication to the LFA from its founding up until her passing was remarkable.
Marilyn was best known for her work with the International Associated Groups Program, where she helped organize lupus groups around the world. In 2001, Lupus Canada recognized Marilyn for her assistance in helping establish their organization in 1986 by presenting her with the “Volunteer Recognition Award”.
The Lupus Foundation recognized Marilyn for her many years of dedication and service by honoring her with the Foundation’s highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award and the Summa Award. Additionally, the Foundation’s Board of Directors appointed Marilyn to be one of only two Lifetime Honorary Members of the Board.
These are just a few of the many awards Marilyn received for her civic and volunteer efforts. She received 16 national awards, including being named as a national finalist for the prestigious Jefferson Leadership Award. She also received the “Women Who Dare to Make a Difference” Award from the Council of Jewish Women, and the Leadership Council Award. She was recognized for her leadership in community medicine for her educational contributions.
Throughout her life, Marilyn offered support, encouragement, and guidance to patients and their families. Her beautiful spirit offered hope to the lupus community when it was needed most. She showed us that one person can make a difference- thank you Marilyn, we miss you!