The Walking Gallery

Jacket #399 “This Is My First Rodeo” for Joe Lavelle


  • Caitlyn Allen Patient Safety Authority


Forget wearing your heart on your sleeve, to have the biggest impact, wear your story on your back! So says Regina Holliday, founder of The Walking Gallery—a self-proclaimed army of patient advocates who wear jackets depicting their experiences with  the healthcare system. Most of the 500 jackets were hand-painted by Holliday, who founded the Gallery in 2011 after the death of her husband, Fred. Fred was diagnosed with metastasized kidney cancer in March 2009, and he and Holliday requested a copy of his medical records to make an informed decision about his care. They were told the records would cost $0.73/ page and be available after a 21-day wait. Fred passed away shortly after the records would’ve been received.

Later that year, a friend was attending the American Medical Association (AMA) conference and suggested Holliday paint a jacket for her to wear portraying Fred’s story—a way to include patients at the event.

In 2011, while attending the opening for Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Total Health, inspiration struck. What the Center needed was an art gallery— not one with paintings hung on the wall, but a walking gallery, where patients could serve as docents for their own lives. Nearly a decade later, The Walking Gallery is as vibrant as ever with dozens of people joining each year.

In each issue, we’ll feature a jacket as a reminder about what it can feel like to navigate our complex healthcare system. While everyone may not provide patient care, each of us has been a patient or loved one doing their best when they’re feeling at their worst.

Jacket #399 This Is My First Rodeofor Joe Lavelle
We chose Joe Lavelle’s  jacket,  #399  “This  Is  My First Rodeo,” for our first issue, because it accurately describes how many patients feel about the healthcare system—your life is  in  your hands with a constant fear of being thrown off. Healthcare professionals are thoughtful, assiduous people who work tirelessly to save lives and care for others. Our hope is this journal, and the rest of our work, will build a bridge between both groups and bring some calm.



Saddle with image of group of people with walking gallery jackets on.



How to Cite

Allen, C. (2019). The Walking Gallery: Jacket #399 “This Is My First Rodeo” for Joe Lavelle. Patient Safety, 1(1), 64–65. Retrieved from
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