By: Allison Fingado, National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter, Communication Intern
EAST HAVEN, Conn.— A lifelong resident of East Haven, Aimee Lambert, 30, pursued her passion for animals by taking courses in natural resources and animal science at Lyman Hall High School. She soon found a niche in grooming and eventually opened her own business, Wags & Whiskers, LLC. But Lambert is not limited to working solely with her four-legged friends. She also holds state certifications for phlebotomy, firefighting and is an emergency medical technician (EMT). Lambert’s life seemed to be on track when a startling alarm sounded.
In the summer of 2011, she began experiencing nausea, vertigo and facial numbness. She was admitted to the hospital where doctors initially thought she was having a stroke. However, eventually she learned she had multiple sclerosis.
“I’m not the type of person to let things get me down,” said Lambert, a firefighter with the East Haven Fire Department. “Things happen in life, but you have to do the best you can and keep living. You can’t let a diagnosis of MS change the way you live your life.”
Lambert comes from a long lineage of firefighters. Raised in a family with a can-do attitude and a commitment to putting others first, she always forged ahead, even if there was an obstacle in her path. Her older brother, Joseph, followed in their father’s footsteps as a volunteer for the East Haven Fire Department Co. 3, becoming First Lieutenant. Inspired by his sudden death in 2010, Lambert joined the ranks, despite battling an illness that is often exacerbated by heat.
“A distant cousin of mine and a good friend both live with the disease,” said Lambert. “Prior to my diagnosis, however, I knew very little about multiple sclerosis. I was not fully aware of what I was in for.”
More than 6,000 Connecticut residents, like Lambert, live with multiple sclerosis, a potentially debilitating disease for which there is no cure. Symptoms can include numbness and tingling in the extremities, difficulties with vision and speech, stiffness, and, in severe cases, complete paralysis.
Lambert did not let MS slow her down. She sees her doctor regularly to manage her symptoms and has clearance to remain on the front line fighting fires and she recently became a Lieutenant of the East Haven Volunteer Fire Department Co. 3.
“I am lucky that my MS does not affect my ability to be a firefighter and an EMT and I don’t plan on ever letting it,” said Lambert. “If anything, I think it has made me a stronger firefighter and a better EMT as I am now more empathetic and, to a certain degree, understand what my patients may be going through.”
Upon receiving her diagnosis, Lambert immediately sought ways to become involved with the National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter, and in 2012, Team Fighting Chaos, a Walk MS fundraising team, was born. Not only does Lambert demonstrate commitment and bravery in the field as she fights fires, but also serving as captain for her Walk MS team, comprised of friends, family and other members of the East Haven Fire Department.
For the third year, Team Fighting Chaos will step out at Cheshire High School. The team has raised almost $3,000. To boost fundraising totals in 2012, Lambert and her teammates rented a hall at the East Haven Fire Department to host a dinner, featuring a live band. In years since, Team Fighting Chaos has also relied on friends, family and word of mouth to garner donations.
“What I am really looking forward to this year is walking in my gear,” said Lambert, who walks alongside fellow fire fighters in full gear. “It is a really cool way to step out with all the people who support me. No matter how much money we raise, I know that by participating in events, such as Walk MS, we may help extinguish this disease.”
Lambert, her family and friends will step out this spring with more than 10,000 Connecticut residents for the 2014 Walk MS, presented by Travelers, which will be held Saturday, April 5 and Sunday, April 6.
Funds raised by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Connecticut Chapter, through events such as Walk MS, presented by Travelers, ensure ongoing scientific research to find better treatments and a cure, and provide vital programs and services offered by the chapter.
There is no fee to register for the 2014 Walk MS, however, participants are encouraged to form teams and raise funds. Finish line activities include entertainment, activities, and lunch, provided compliments of Subway restaurants and Coca-Cola.
Walk MS community partners include News 8, WUVN / WHTX Univision and WUTH Telefutura and Clear Channel Radio Connecticut, which includes The River 105.9, Country 92.5, KISS 95.7, ESPN 1410 AM, KC 101.3, 960 WELI, and ESPN 1300 AM. Other community partners include 95.9 The FOX, WCTY 97.7 and La Puertorriqueñisima 1120 AM.
For more information on the 2014 Walk MS, presented by Travelers, to donate to Team Fighting Chaos or to register for Walk MS, visit www.ctfightsMS.org.