Meet Gayle Petrillo

Written on June 09, 2021

We recently sat down with Gayle Petrillo

to learn more about her experience as a first-timer at Phoenix World Burn Congress (WBC: Engage

Phoenix: Can you tell me more about your experience as burn survivor?

Gayle: I am a burn survivor who has very recently come ‘out of hiding’. My burn was an accident as a toddler. I reached across a table for a cookie and tipped over a freshly brewed pot of coffee, off the table and all over me. 40% of my body suffered 3rd or greater burns and I have the physical and emotional scars lingering. I struggled for years with body image issues, bullying, lack of self-confidence, fears, and phobias. 


Phoenix: How did you first hear about Phoenix Society? 

Gayle: The Arizona Burn Foundation (Lori Janik) reached out after I connected with their CEO and COO on LinkedIn and after meeting, she suggested I become a Phoenix SOAR Peer Supporter. I signed up for a digital training and am excited to be working with other burn survivors and families! I have also spoken to share my story at a few support groups that Lori facilitates. 


Phoenix: What was your experience like at Phoenix WBC: Engage? 

Gayle: This was my first time attending any Phoenix WBC or burn community event. I was very impressed with the speakers, the overall program and how well the conference was managed in this virtual world.   

"I virtually met so many amazing survivors who I am now still in touch with. It’s so important to know we are not alone, no matter where in our healing we are”
Phoenix: What was your favorite session and why? 

Gayle: Unfortunately, due to prior commitments I wasn’t able to ‘attend’ the first half day. That being said, I can only imagine what a great kickoff it was given the inspirational ending with J.R. Martinez. I thoroughly enjoyed the Open Mic session, hearing other’s share their story and the option for choosing from a list of four learning session topics was great. I was able to join the live ‘Getting Back Out There” and also enjoyed the final networking session. 


Phoenix: What was the number one thing you took away from the event? 

Gayle: I virtually met so many amazing survivors who I am now still in touch with, either on Facebook (support groups) or individually (one from Toronto). It’s so important to know we are not alone, no matter where in our healing we are.  

More about Gayle:

Born and raised in Albany, New York, Gayle now calls Tucson, Arizona home. She is married to her best friend and husband, Al. Throughout her life, Gayle turned obstacles into opportunities. She shares her story of building self-confidence so everyone who has scars, physical or emotional, can push past them and persevere. She also recently published a book titles "The Accident."


Our 33rd annual Phoenix World Burn Congress will be held virtually October 22 – 24, 2021. Find other local and virtual events by visiting our Community Calendar.