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The Archie Vinitsky Award was presented to Di Bracken on 16 August 2012 at the United Ostomy Association of Canada Conference Awards Luncheon in Toronto. This prestigious award was created by the International Ostomy Association (IOA) as a tribute to recognize a man who was one of the pioneer leaders of the ostomy mutual aide and support movement. This same man was also one of the founding fathers of the IOA. His name was Archie Vinitsky. This award that bears his name is presented periodically to a person the worldwide community of national ostomy associations believes has done an outstanding job on their behalf.

Archie was passionate about the need to improve the quality of life of ostomates worldwide. The recipient Di is known to have embraced this philosophy. We hear it in her words, "During my years of being involved in ostomy societies I still obtain my greatest pleasure when I receive a request and am able to help a fellow ostomate."

Having her Ileostomy surgery in 1980 Di Bracken quickly became active in the leadership and service activities of her local and regional support groups.

In 1991 the United Ostomy Association, then servicing both Canada and the United States, discovered how talented she was, and thus marking the start of Di's service at the national level.

1997 found her now the president of the newly formed United Ostomy Association of Canada (UOAC).

Having lived and worked on three continents, teaching in the United Kingdom, Hong Kong and Canada, Di acted on her interest in international ostomy affairs helping to meet the needs of ostomates in developing countries through Friends of Ostomates Worldwide (FOW) Canada.

Elected to the position of vice president of the North and Central America and Caribbean Ostomy Association (NCACOA), a region of IOA, she was quickly elected vice president of IOA at its 2000 World Congress in Amsterdam. This was followed by her election to the office of IOA President at the 2004 World Congress in Puerto Rico.

Di's accomplishments during this period of international service are many:

  • She was the healing force in rebuilding the solidarity of the IOA member associations and renewing the confidence of its corporate supporters.
  • She worked closely with the IOA webmaster to publish the electronic newsletter "IOA Today" and she collaborated with the IOA secretary to update the IOA handbook.
  • Revitalization of the International Stoma Care Advocacy Program (ISCAP) to address regional concerns with all levels of government was one of Di's successful undertakings.
  • Di had an excellent relationship with the manufacturers and worked hard to continue building on this relationship to achieve success for IOA.

As President of IOA Di worked actively with the Lion's for Stoma Care program by showing to developing nations that a person with an ostomy can live a productive life. In this pursuit Di travelled to many countries, most notably to Vietnam, China, Argentina, Bolivia and India where she aided in the organization of support groups and in teaching Enterostomal Therapists (ET's) and ostomates that there is life after ostomy surgery.

  • Representing IOA, along with ET's from the World Council of Enterostomal Therapists (WCET), Di collaborated in producing a Visitor Training Manual for IOA that was translated into many languages and is used worldwide.
  • Di is still serving on the board of the Dansac Foundation and was also instrumental in obtaining funding from the Coloplast "Access to Healthcare Programme" for ostomy education outreach programmes in China and India.
  • By 2009 it became apparent that the restructuring of IOA was needed. Di was appointed chair of the task force assigned to redefine the structure of IOA. This restructuring plan was accepted and approved by the delegates at the IOA World Meeting in Frankfurt, Germany in November of 2010 and the current structure of IOA is evidence of her work.

Di has devoted over two decades of her life and talent to help UOA, UOAC, NCACOA, IOA and FOW, in their mission to help ostomates at home and around the world.

Barry Maughan, IOA Coordination Committee Chairperson, in his presentation speech said "It is with a certainty that if Archie Vinitsky were with us today he would be the first to rise and give Di Bracken a standing ovation for a job well done!"

This standing ovation was acknowledged by all conferees and members of her family present at the awards luncheon.

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