BAKKEN INVITATION Honorees' Accomplishments

Learn how Honorees are making a difference around the world.

Bakken Invitation Honorees have inspired others through sharing their inspiring stories, educating others to manage their condition, creating support groups, and influencing policymakers to help ensure others are given the opportunity to better manage their health.

The Medtronic Foundation supports honorees as a way of empowering patient voices in global conversations about healthcare. 

Each Bakken Invitation Honoree contributes to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by using their extra life to give back and inspire others to Live On, Give On, and Dream On. SDGs are a set of 17 goals to fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change by 2030. For more information on SDGs, visit the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals website.

Read about the difference past honorees are making in communities around the world below:

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Karla Altmayer

Karla Altmayer (USA), shunt 

Shortly after Karla’s birth, doctors operated to implant a shunt to treat a rare, serious, congenital heart defect. Inspired by her mother’s efforts to get her life-saving treatments and caring for Karla and her siblings, Karla co-founded Healing to Action, which advances a worker-led movement to end gender-based violence.

Karla’s work contributes to SDG#5 — Gender Equality

Arthur Amman

Arthur Amman (USA), pacemaker

Just days after surviving sudden cardiac arrest and receiving his first pacemaker, Arthur reflected on his life and career and decided he would use his "extra time" to help improve health conditions in impoverished regions. He founded Global Strategies to meet prevention and care needs in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe and Liberia.

Art’s work contributes to SDG#3 – Good Health and Well-Being

Jason Baker

Jason Baker (USA), continuous glucose monitor

Jason Baker was becoming a doctor when he became the patient. While in medical school, he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Since 2012, Jason has used a continuous glucose monitor. After completing his medical studies, specializing in endocrinology, he now treats patients with diabetes. He founded Marjorie’s Fund in 2012, a nonprofit that helps people with type 1 diabetes effectively manage their diabetes, regardless of age, geography, or means.

Jason’s work contributes to SDG# — Good Health and Well-Being

Phil Bemis

Phil Bemis (USA), pacemaker & heart valve

In 2008, Phil began experiencing chronic heart problems, which caused him to pass out — seriously disrupting his active life. After receiving a new heart valve, the 82-year-old has not had a single heart problem, and his life changed for the better. Today, Phil, who began singing 50 years ago as a hobby, is a member of Alive & Kickin, a rock 'n' roll senior ensemble that performs across the Twin Cities, Minnesota area.

Phil’s work contributes to SDG#3 – Good Health and Well-Being

Krystal Boyce

Krystal Boyce (Barbados), insulin pump

Krystal Boyea has devoted much of her young life to sharing how she has lived a healthy, full life with diabetes, encouraging others to do the same. From her first online campaign to talks at the United Nations and TEDx, Krystal has become the face of diabetes in Barbados and the Caribbean. She also co-founded a groundbreaking diabetes clinic in Barbados. Krystal chose to support Healthy Caribbean Coalition in collaboration with government, private enterprise, academia, and international partners, to help prevent and manage chronic diseases among Caribbean people.

Krystal’s work contributes to SDG#3 – Good Health and Well-Being

Allison Smith Conway

Allison Smith Conway (USA), deep brain stimulation

Allison was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease when she was 32. Deep brain stimulation helps her manage the symptoms, but she found few resources available for people experiencing young onset Parkinson’s. She founded Parkinson’s in Balance through the Foundation for Neurosciences, Stroke and Recovery, which offers fitness classes and support groups in her community. She connects with thousands of others through her "Perky Parkie" blog.

Allison’s work contributes to SDG#3 – Good Health and Well-Being

Lindsey Davis

Lindsay Davis (USA), implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD)

Lindsay had to give up her dream of becoming a ballerina after being diagnosed with a cardiac disease at age 17. Instead, after she received an implantable cardioverter defibrillator she devoted her time to raising awareness about sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) in children. Since 2013, she has facilitated screenings, performed in educational videos, spread information through articles and speaking engagements, participated in fundraisers, and worked to pass legislation related to SCA awareness and CPR training. 

Lindsay’s work contributes to SDG#3 — Good Health and Well-Being

Clint Benson Doyle

Clint Benson Doyle (USA), implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD)

Clint Doyle experienced brain damage at an early age after surviving sudden cardiac arrest. Clint advocates for youth and for people with disabilities, to give them every opportunity to discover their gift and strength. Clint, who now has an ICD, leads art programs for children with special needs, where he inspires and challenges them to stay focused on their goals. Mana'olana Hope, Inc.

Clint’s work contributes to SDG#3 – Good Health and Well-Being

Ismael Encinas

Ismael Encinas (Mexico), neurostimulation for movement disorders

When Ismael was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease just prior to the birth of his first child, he worried about providing for his family. After deep brain stimulation helped control his symptoms, he was inspired to encourage other Parkinson’s patients through video, one-on-one meetings, and conferences.

Ismael’s work contributes to SDG #3 — Good Health and Well-Being

Bruce Harper

Bruce Harper (USA), implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD)

Having experienced sudden cardiac arrest four times, Bruce realizes the lifesaving power of an ICD. This former New York Jets football player now mentors students of all ages through Heroes and Cool Kids, which he founded after his cardiac events.

Bruce’s work contributes to SDG#4 - Quality Education

Fran Heitzman

Fran Heitzman (USA), pacemaker

In 1993, Fran had quintuple bypass surgery. Fourteen years later, he received a pacemaker. In 1987, he founded Bridgingwhere he continues to volunteer. Bridging provides quality furniture and household goods to people transitioning out of homelessness and poverty. On average, Bridging distributes 11 semi-truckloads of furniture and household goods to 80 households every week.

Fran’s work contributes to SDG#1 - No Poverty

Eric Jordan

Eric Jordan (USA), revascularization device

Eric was a professional opera singer when he suffered a massive stroke. Physicians treated him with a device to remove the blood clot in his brain and help him recover. Today, Eric is an inspirational speaker/singer and a music therapy student at Queens University in Charlotte, North Carolina. Eric's Bakken Invitation Award will support the music therapy program at the university by providing students with scholarships and internship stipends.

Eric’s work contributes to SDG#3 – Good Health and Well-Being

Edward Levien

Edward Levien (USA), neurostimulation

After losing 12 years of his life to intolerable pain, Ed found relief through neurostimulation. He has since dedicated his life to helping others suffering pain. Through Hero Dogs program, he trains and then donates service dogs to wounded veterans, providing soldiers with increased independence and improved quality of life.

Edward’s work contributes to SDG#11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities

Gretchen Merrit

Gretchen Merrit (USA), insulin pump

Gretchen has lived with type 1 diabetes most of her life. Diabetes did not hold her back from accomplishing her goals, but it made her carefully think about her health and how she directs her passion. At 22, she began using an insulin pump, which she says made a difference in her quality of life. She pours her passion into fighting to free sex slaves in India through Freedom Firm.

Gretchen’s work contributes to SDG#5 - Gender Equality

Sara Meslow

Sara Meslow (USA), implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD)

Sara was first diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat at age 13. She received an ICD when she was 29 to protect her from cardiac arrest. Her love for kids and the outdoors inspired her to open Camp Odayin, a camp for kids with heart defects.

Sara’s work contributes to SDG#3 – Good Health and Well-Being

Nathália Noschese

Nathália Noschese (Brazil), insulin pump

At a young age, Nathália was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. She uses an insulin pump to keep her symptoms under control. and the support of others to manage her health. Inspired by the support she received, she helps others with diabetes by volunteering with ADJ Diabetes Brasil. 

Nathália’s work contributes to SDG #3 — Good Health and Well-Being

Tracy O'Connor

Tracy O'Connor (USA), intrathecal drug pump to Treat Chronic Intractable Pain

As the sole survivor of a multi-car accident, Tracy was left paralyzed but determined to make a difference. With a drug pump helping manage chronic intractable pain, she is a national voice for disability awareness and works with ThinkFirst to warn thousands of kids on the dangers of risky behavior.

Tracy’s work contributes to SDG#3 – Good Health and Well-Being

Samantha Petersen

Samantha Petersen (USA), spinal fusion

Samantha was diagnosed with scoliosis at the age of 11. In 2012, after her spinal fusion surgery corrected the curve in her spine, then 15-year-old Sami turned her passion and newfound physical freedom into SHIFT Scoliosis , an organization she created to provide screenings and support for all people with spinal conditions.

Samantha’s work contributes to SDG#3 – Good Health and Well-Being

R.T. Rybak

R.T. Rybak (USA), stent

R.T. suffered a heart attack. He was transported to the hospital, where three drug-eluting stents were placed to open critical arteries and restore heart function. R.T. is president and CEO of the Minneapolis Foundation and a member of the leadership council of Generation Next — a coalition of civic, business, and education leaders in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota dedicated to closing achievement and opportunity gaps.

R.T.’s work contributes to SDG#10 - Reduced Inequalities

Roberta Alves Silva

Roberta Alves Silva (Brazil), insulin pump

Roberta was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 14 years old, which she found particularly difficult to control until an insulin pump helped her manage the disease. For the past two years, Roberta has served as a volunteer for Educational Association in Diabetes (Colônia Diabetes Weekend), a program that offers young people living with diabetes activities, support, and opportunities to share experiences.

Roberta’s work contributes to SDG#3 – Good Health and Well-Being

David Simmonds

David Simmonds (Canada), deep brain stimulation (DBS)

David has lived with Parkinson’s disease since 1993. His DBS device allows him to function independently and devote his time and energy to helping others, specifically as a volunteer for the Parkinson's Society Canada.

David’s work contributes to SDG#3 – Good Health and Well-Being

Clarissa Solari

Clarissa Solari (Uruguay), insulin pump

Clarissa credits an insulin pump with helping her control diabetes symptoms that spiraled in adolescence. In gratitude, she has made education her life’s work — working tirelessly with diabetes-related advocacy groups, presenting scientific papers around the world, and detailing information about diabetes education.  

Clarissa’s work contributes to SDG #3 — Good Health and Well-Being

Leah Stoltz

Leah Stoltz (USA), scoliosis surgery

Leah was diagnosed with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis in middle school and wore a back brace before requiring surgery to correct two curves growing in her back. Since then, she has made it her personal mission to empower and support girls diagnosed with scoliosis. Leah founded Curvy Girls, an international scoliosis support group for girls with nearly 80 chapters in more than 30 states and 15 countries around the world. Leah's Bakken Invitation Award will support training for Curvy Girls chapter leaders.

Leah’s work contributes to SDG#3 – Good Health and Well-Being

Jack Terschluse

Jack Terschluse (USA), insulin pump

Jack was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 11. Receiving an insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor provided him with flexibility and confidence. As a result of his new life, Jack, now 23, started a global nonprofit, Penpals United, which offers online support groups to children with type 1 diabetes in resource-poor communities worldwide. Opportunities to connect with their peers help these children and their families realize that, with the proper skills and devices, diabetes does not have to control their lives.

Jack’s work contributes to SDG#3 – Good Health and Well-Being

Twinkle VanFleet

Twinkle VanFleet (USA), spinal cord stimulation

Twinkle was diagnosed in 2003 with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome/Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome (CRPS/RSD), a painful, debilitating and often progressive central nervous system disorder. A spinal cord stimulator has helped manage her pain, and she has expanded her advocacy efforts on behalf of those with neuropathic pain disorders from online to in-person events. Power of Pain Foundation.

Twinkle’s work contributes to SDG#3 – Good Health and Well-Being

Sheila Vasconcellos

Sheila Vasconcellos (Brazil), insulin pump

Sheila Vasconcellos has had type 1 diabetes since 30 years. In January 2014, she began using an insulin pump. Determined to give back, Sheila started volunteering at Casa de Apoio, where she helps children diagnosed with cancer and serious blood conditions. Sheila believes that the insulin pump has given her extra life, and she hopes to live another 45 years loving and supporting others.

Sheila’s work contributes to SDG#3 – Good Health and Well-Being

Lisa Visser

Lisa Visser (USA), implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD)

Lisa suffered a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) at the age of 26, leading to a diagnosis of arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia, a congenital heart defect. She now has an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) to treat future SCA episodes. Grateful for the extra life she receives, she has volunteered time helping various organizations for the homeless in Minnesota. Temple Israel's Committee to End Homelessness.

Lisa’s work contributes to SDG#1 - No Poverty

David Watkins

David Watkins (USA), heart valve

David Watkins was living with an undiagnosed bicuspid aortic valve. By the time he was diagnosed, he was at risk of aneurysm, and made a difficult decision to undergo surgery to replace his heart valve. After recovery, he decided to start living the legacy he wanted to leave: using the power of sports to help others live their dreams through the Ironheart Foundation.

David’s work contributes to SDG#3 – Good Health and Well-Being

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