Todd Marvel is a common sight in Springfield, Illinois. As an MS activist and resident of the city, he is constantly working to improve the lives of people living with MS in Illinois. Todd himself is living with MS, but his official diagnosis didn’t come until 14 years after his first attack. Thankfully, that gave him plenty of time to research the disease and prepare for the eventual diagnosis.
“I recovered from that first attack in about a month, and I thought that might mean the doctor was wrong when he said I may have MS,” says Todd. “Even so, I always had the thought in the back of my mind. After the second attack came, I already knew about multiple sclerosis and the National MS Society and how it could help, and I sought it out right away.”
Todd is a natural fit for the role of an MS activist. As an employee of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, he had significant experience with giving legislative testimony and discussing matters with legislators. These skills have helped him to advocate for causes related to MS awareness and support, and along with the entire team of MS activists, he has seen great results over the last several years.
“We’ve had some bills come through with completely unanimous, bipartisan support,” says Todd. “That’s almost unheard of. We’ve had success with the MS scratch-off lottery ticket, with the MS Task Force, with insurance covering physical therapy. Even the gas station accessibility bill, which didn’t pass, has had gas stations thinking about how to be more accommodating.”
At the end of the day, Todd finds his inspiration in the people he meets and the stories he hears. One person in particular, a Vietnam veteran named Bob Taylor who lived with MS for more than 40 years, made a particularly strong impact on Todd.
“I worked with Bob at MS Action Day, and he had the absolute best attitude,” he says. “One time, I told him, ‘Bob, I’m really sorry that you have such a severe form of this disease.’ Bob looked at me and said, ‘Don’t be sorry. Every day is an adventure, every day is something different, and every day is worth living.’”
Todd thinks about Bob and others with MS whenever he walks into a legislator’s office.
“Every time I go to Action Day, every time I go to DC, I get my energy from Bob Taylor and people like him. His incredible spirit, his incredible attitude – what an inspiration.”