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About the Award

SPIN’s work would not be possible without the unwavering dedication of many individuals in the scleroderma community, who are working to support scleroderma research and care, improve quality of life in scleroderma, and raise awareness about the disease.


In 2018, SPIN founded the Maureen Sauvé Inspiration Award to recognize the remarkable accomplishments of these individuals. The award is named in honour of Maureen Sauvé, who has had a tremendous impact as an advocate for people living with scleroderma in Ontario, across Canada, and internationally. As past-President of both Scleroderma Canada and the Scleroderma Society of Ontario, she helped increase membership, expand their programs, and raise the profile of both organizations. Along with Dr. Brett Thombs, Maureen spearheaded the formation of SPIN by securing its initial seed funding in 2010. Today, Maureen continues her efforts as the Vice President of Advocacy and Public Relations for Scleroderma Canada and Co-Chair of the SPIN Patient Advisory Board. The SPIN team is tremendously grateful for all that Maureen has done and looks forward to seeing her future achievements.

2020 Recipient

2020 Recipient


Laura Dyas

SPIN was proud to present the 2020 Maureen Sauvé Inspiration Award to Laura Dyas. Laura has served as the Executive Director of the Michigan Chapter of the Scleroderma Foundation for over ten years. As Training Director of the SPIN-SSLED Program, Laura helped develop SPIN's videoconference-based training program for scleroderma support group leaders. Since 2018, Laura has trained over 100 support group leaders, via the SPIN-SSLED Program. She also provides monthly post-SSLED teleconferences and played an important role in the SPIN-CHAT Program.

2019 Recipient


Catherine Fortuné

SPIN's 2019 Maureen Sauvé Inspiration award went to the well-deserving Catherine Fortuné. Catherine served as a board member for Scleroderma Canada from 2007-2017, and as Treasurer from 2009-2017. She has co-facilitated many chronic illness peer support workshops, has been the facilitator of the Ottawa Scleroderma Support Group since September 2014, and has also advocated for the Canadian Organization for Rare Diseases. Catherine is a member of SPIN’s Patient Advisory Board and has been involved in many different SPIN Projects, including the  SPIN-CHAT (SPIN COVID-19 Home-isolation Activities Together) and SPIN-SSLED (Scleroderma Support group Leader EDucation) Programs, among others. 

2018 Recipient


Joep Welling

In 2018, SPIN was honoured to present the inaugural Maureen Sauvé Inspiration Award to Joep Welling in recognition of his extraordinary contributions to the scleroderma community. A long-time patient advocate, Joep is extremely passionate about patient advocacy, particularly the inclusion of patients in research and developing treatment guidelines. He has previously served as President of the Dutch organization for systemic autoimmune diseases (NVLE), as a consultant for the Scleroderma Framed Foundation, and as a patient research partner for the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR). He is also an active member of SPIN’s Patient Advisory Board, which oversees SPIN’s overall research direction, and co-led the development of the SPIN-HAND Program, an online program with rehabilitation exercises to improve hand function in scleroderma.

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