It’s been an interesting time, these last few years. Starting Mylyfe just as COVID hit really gave me some invaluable insight into what it means to lead especially during times of great challenge. I’ve met many leaders over the span of my life, most have had a pretty big impact on me and the communities I serve, one of the leaders was Val Bias. I have had personal and professional experiences with Val that I hold in a special place. I wanted to share some of my stories with you, so we can honor his work and life, something he dedicated to serving people affected by bleeding disorders.
Around 2010, I sat on a panel at an NHF (National Hemophilia Foundation) Annual Meeting in New Orleans. The session’s panel consisted of three sets of partners living with hemophilia, discussing their personal journeys trying to have children. Each couple was on a different path and were willing to open up intimately and share their story. On the panel with my wife, Sasha, and I were Val and his wife, Robin.
I’ll always remember this session (and I have been to MANY I do not remember) for a couple of reasons. One, participating on the panel and sharing such personal information was such a moment of empowerment. It also brought us panelists together in sort of a sacred bond. Regardless of where we lived, our age, our backgrounds, etc., going through this journey together made our friendship so much stronger.
The second reason I’ll always remember this session was the response we received from the audience. Everyone was 100% engaged in the conversation. We even met another wonderful couple from the audience who were in the same exact position as we were in trying to have a baby and they are still dear friends of ours. A few years after the meeting, Val told me it was the highest rated session ever at an NHF meeting. I told him it was likely because of me. He begged to differ.
Another fond memory I have of Val is seeing him and Robin, I believe at a hemophilia walk, shortly after baby Langston joined their family. They were tucked away under a tree off to the side. It was such a pleasure to see them both with their new baby boy just enjoying the day and enjoying life together. My wife and I were still not yet successful getting pregnant and they both shared all their love and provided us with hope to continue on with our journey. On so many levels, from one-on-one to protecting patients nationally and really globally, Val was a symbol of hope and a symbol of perseverance. When Val was on a mission, he wasn’t going to give up. It’s a good thing he was on our side!
Lastly, I will share that my uncle, Donald Colburn, and Val were warriors together and close friends. Along with many other blood brothers, they helped lead the fight, representing people living and those who passed from the HIV crisis in our bleeding disorders community. They served on several committees and boards on a national level in an effort to ensure clean blood products and represent the patients to hold pharma accountable for the travesty that happened to us in the 80’s. I often found myself traveling for meetings, advocacy work, funerals, etc. and Val always took time to stop and come say hello to me whenever we would see each other. Especially as a younger blood brother, I was always touched by Val’s welcoming personality. I’ll never forget when Val took the stage at an NHF Annual Meeting shortly after taking on the role of CEO of NHF. He had his big stage, bright lights, celebratory music and a crowd standing up with applause. It gave me the chills. Once again, he was providing our community with the hope we needed to press on because we knew Val was one of us and he represented us all.
Few people have made an impact the way Val did. Hopefully he knows that his name, his smile, his chuckle and his life will never be forgotten. Val will always be remembered in our community and most certainly by me.
Much love Val. Rest in peace.