Why did you decide to participate in Walk MS?
When I was diagnosed in September 2000, the National MS Society was there for information, support and resources. I wanted to do something to give back and make sure that resources are there for others that may be facing similar situations. My parents instilled in me the importance of volunteering and giving back. Some of my fondest memories growing up are volunteering with my parents, be it veterans groups, church or civic projects. That was just what we did, giving to others in any way we could.
How many years have you participated in the event?
My first Walk MS was in 2001, along with my husband and sister. We have walked or volunteered in Rochester, Red Wing and Hastings over the years. In rain, six inches of snow and sunny weather, it's our kickoff to spring each year!
Are you involved in the National MS Society in other ways besides Walk MS?
I also volunteer for various Bike MS events, MuckFest™ MS and have participated in Challenge Walk MS: Twin Cities for eight years. I have also participated in MS Day at the Capitol and volunteered to help with programs and MS Awareness Week.
What are a few things you wish people understood about multiple sclerosis?
That outward signs are deceiving. The one thing that drives me crazy is when people say, "But you look so good ..." Although I do not want anyone else to have this disease, my wish is that everyone spend one hour in my body to see what people with MS deal with every day. The multiple symptoms and outcomes of MS makes it hard for people to understand the limitations that it puts on your life. This is the hardest thing I have had to come to terms with, the uncertainty of what will each day will bring.
What’s the most important, meaningful or memorable connection you have made since being diagnosed with MS or having someone close to you diagnosed?
It's strange to say, but the most important thing since being diagnosed has been reconnecting with life. Before my diagnosis, I skirted along the edges of life, not really getting involved but going through the motions. Because of MS and the connections that my disease has broken, I have connected with my husband, Wayne, and my family. I have had to make connections to make up for what's been lost to MS. The biggest thing is asking for help and knowing that you don't have to go through it alone.
What makes you a great Walk MS Ambassador?
I am passionately committed to finding a cure and support the Society's goals to educate and support people living with MS and their families. I believe knowledge is power, and I want everyone to know the great progress that has been made in understanding multiple sclerosis and research that is bringing us closer to a world free of this disease.