Feb 15, 2011
Sean O'Leary, Communications Specialist
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monroe Resident Ready To Bring Fight To Hartford For MS Action Day
HARTFORD, Conn. – After three decades of working for Stamford-based Pitney Bowes, Monroe resident Ben Cuttitta was eagerly anticipating his retirement and ample opportunities to play his favorite sport, tennis.
|Ben Cuttitta, left, of Monroe, poses with Paul Bashy, of Hartford, during the NBC Connecticut Health & Wellness Festival in October. Cuttitta, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1992, is on the advocacy committee for the National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter and will be at the 2011 MS Action Day at the State Capitol in Hartford on Tuesday, March 15.|
It was on the court that Cuttitta received the first indication his retirement would not play out as he thought. Shortly after retiring, Cuttitta suddenly realized that his game was off. His playing partners noticed but Cuttitta couldn’t explain it, nor could his doctors.
“I went back and forth with my doctors because we couldn’t figure out the cause,” he explained. “I knew something was wrong. I was moving slower on the court and I was feeling more fatigued than usual.”
Cuttitta’s skills had diminished to the point that the people he had played against for years didn’t want to anymore. After almost two years of questioning himself, Cuttitta received his answer in 1992. His doctor had referred Cuttitta to a neurologist, who sent him to undergo an MRI. The results revealed lesions on his brain and led to a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.
“It was a shock to me because I was 64 years old at the time and that was pretty old to be diagnosed with MS,” Cuttitta shared. “I immediately began to experience cognitive issues, such as forgetting names or directions to places.”
Shortly after being diagnosed, Cuttitta sought out how to get involved in fighting the disease and became a volunteer for the former Western Connecticut Chapter and, eventually, the current National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter. In October, Cuttitta volunteered at the chapter’s booth at the NBC Connecticut Health & Wellness Festival in Hartford, answering questions about living with MS.
Among all of his volunteer work, Cuttitta said he is most proud of working on the chapter’s programs and advisory committees. He will be one of many people living with MS that will descend on the State Capitol in Hartford this spring for the 2011 MS Action Day on Tuesday, March 15.
In particular, Cuttitta is a strong advocate for the Connecticut Home Care Program for the Disabled, which is a small state-funded pilot program for people between the ages of 19 and 64 who have degenerative neurological diseases, including MS, to receive home care instead of living in a nursing home.
“It’s very important that we’re able to provide information to legislators about what is going on in the MS community and what people with MS need,” he shared. “For example, the continued funding of the Connecticut Home Care Program for the Disabled is vital because of how it improves the quality of life for those who benefit from the program.”
At the 2010 MS Action Day, more than 50 people living with MS and their families came to Hartford to meet with their respective legislators and share their personal stories and concerns with them. Several legislators addressed those in attendance and talked about their involvement with health care legislation.
For 2011, the state’s budget will be the prominent topic for MS Action Day.
“The event is an opportunity for people with MS, their family members and other advocates to meet with legislators and let them know how critical it is to fund healthcare and basic human needs programs during these trying times,” said Susan Raimondo, Senior Director of Advocacy and Programs for the Connecticut Chapter.
More than 6,000 Connecticut residents live with the unpredictable and baffling effects of multiple sclerosis. The cause is unknown, and, as a result, there currently is no cure. Symptoms can include, among other things, numbness in the limbs, difficulties with vision and speech, stiffness and, in some more severe cases, total paralysis.
The 2011 MS Action Day will take place Tuesday, March 15, in the Old Judiciary Room of the State Capitol Building at 210 Capital Ave. in Hartford. For more information on the event and handicapped-accessible buses for the event, please visit www.ctfightsMS.org or e-mail programs@ctfightsMS.org.