On World Meningitis Day, a Dad Hopes His Son’s Tragic Story Can Save Lives

dad2summit2019 Dad 2.0 Summit, Sponsor, Uncategorized

Tiffany Williams and her dad Greg Williams

For the second year in a row, we were honored to welcome GSK to the 2019 Dad 2.0 Summit as a Presenting Sponsor to discuss the importance of vaccinations and the prevention of disease. GSK spokespersons helped us relate to this issue by sharing their stories to help educate us, and possibly save other lives.

This year we were humbled by the story of Greg Williams, who lost his son Nico to meningitis. Greg shared his story onstage in front of 400 attendees, and then was joined by his daughter Tiffany (pictured together, above) on a breakout panel to go even deeper into Nico’s life, diagnosis, and legacy. It was, by all accounts, raw and heartbreaking. Tragedy is a heavy weight, one Greg has carried admirably, working tirelessly to help make sure other parents and children, other families, do not experience their own version of it.

Today, April 24, is World Meningitis Day, and we’re thankful to Greg for sharing his story, Nico’s story, to encourage dads to learn about the two vaccines available to help prevent against the five vaccine-preventable serogroups of meningitis, so they can help protect their kids against this uncommon but potentially fatal disease.

Greg shares his experience below:

What was your family’s experience with meningitis?

My son Nico was born Nicolis Terrel Williams on November 13, 1990. He had the gift of confidence; he had so much of it himself that it was only natural for him to pour it out into others. He could turn a bad day into a blessing in a heartbeat. In college he really blossomed. He adopted the nickname “Nico” while attending his beloved Texas A&M University.

Nico died on February 11, 2011, from meningitis B.  He was not feeling well that morning and went to the clinic where he was treated for flu-like symptoms. After about three hours, his symptoms worsened and he was rushed to the hospital. Within eight minutes of being admitted to the hospital, he passed away.

Tell us about your work to raise awareness about meningitis.

We were devastated by the news and decided we wanted to do something that would really make a difference. The purpose of The Nico Williams Foundation is to raise awareness regarding bacterial meningitis. Through The Nico Williams Foundation, we provide materials and offer presentations to inform the public about the potential dangers associated with the disease.  My daughter and I also work with GSK to help get the word out.

What do you think is important for parents to know about meningitis?

Early symptoms of meningitis may be similar to those of a cold or the flu, but can progress quickly and can be fatal or cause disability.[i],[ii]

While uncommon, one in 10 people infected with meningococcal disease will die, while one in five survivors will suffer long-term disability, such as loss of limbs, brain damage, deafness and nervous system problems.[iii]

There are two vaccines available to help protect against the five vaccine preventable serogroups of meningitis.  Parents should talk to their health care provider to see if these vaccines are right for their children. 

What can we do as parents and bloggers to get the word out?

After Nico’s death, we met so many parents who also suffered the excruciating pain of losing a child to bacterial meningitis. During the course of those conversations, there was a common statement that many parents repeated, including us: “I didn’t know anything about meningitis.”
As parents, we need to share our stories to inform the public about the potential dangers associated with meningitis and the vaccines available to help prevent it.

To learn more, go to www.meningitisb.com

[i] CDC. Manual for the Surveillance of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases: Chapter 8: Meningococcal Disease. Available here. Accessed February 2019.

[ii] CDC. Meningococcal Disease: Signs & Symptoms. Available here. Accessed February 2019.

[iii] CDC. Meningococcal Disease: Technical and Clinical Information. June 2016. Available here. Accessed February 2019.