- by Mount Saint Mary College

When tragedy struck Iris Petrillo, she used it as inspiration to help the community she loves. 

Petrillo (formerly Heller) is a proud 1984 graduate of the Nursing program. In 1992, she was diagnosed with Lupus, an autoimmune disease. Sadly, her mother suffered from Lupus as well and passed away in the year 2000 from complications of the disease.

In her mother’s memory, Petrillo founded the Hudson Valley Walk to End Lupus Now.

“We needed awareness of Lupus in this region,” explained Petrillo. “At that time, the closest walk was in New York City.”

Since 2015, the walk has grown tremendously. In its first year alone, it earned more than $10,000 for the Lupus Foundation of America. In total, the Hudson Valley Walk to End Lupus has raised more than $100,000. 

“I am forever grateful to my family and friends that supported my original idea for a local walk...It’s good to know that I have made a difference. I hope to continue to make positive changes, embrace my community, and be a support to those that need it.”

Petrillo owes much of her personal success to her alma mater, she noted. The college “helped me to become who I am because I was able to get a great education close to home,” she said. “I truly feel that my nursing career started off on such a great note because the education that I received at MSMC helped me realize my capabilities.

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