Each Mid Florida Chapter volunteer has a unique personal story and connection to our mission. Meet some of our many volunteers who donate their time.
Craig Shapiro has been volunteering with the National MS Society Mid Florida Chapter since 2008. He started as a HAM operator for BIke MS and from there he wanted to be more involved. For the 2009 Bike MS ride Craig was a supply truck driver and in 2010 he wanted to get even depper involved and became the Supply Truck Coordinator, which is no small task when you are coordinating supplies for over 1200 cyclists and volunteers! Craig has played a critical role in ensuring a safe and organized event.
Craig received the Making a Difference award at the Mid Florida's Chapter's Annual Meeting in November 2010 and was featured in a Tampa Bay Online article in February 2011. To read the article and learn more about Craig, please click here.
It’s a Family Affair: Fleischer Family:
When it comes to volunteering, three isn’t a crowd, at least not in the Fleischer family. Paul, Patricia and Taylor Fleischer have all joined the movement to end MS. Patricia was diagnosed with MS nine years ago. At first, she was in a slump and didn’t know how to get out of it. So five years ago, she decided to register for walkMS and she’s participated each year since.
The first year her fundraising was just a personal donation. “The walk inspired me to change my life and help those with MS who are worse off than me,” she said. She felt that she wanted to help in anyway she could and she wanted to teach her daughter about giving back. “It’s great to meet new people and see familiar faces. Everyone is so friendly and helpful. It’s really a great experience every year,” Patricia added.
The family’s involvement doesn’t end there. Patricia’s husband Paul has ridden in bikeMS for four years and Patricia and Taylor volunteer at the event. He said it’s heartwarming to see his wife and their 11-yer-old daughter Taylor when he crosses the finish line. “It’s great to see Patricia standing there, knowing that I accomplished something for her,” Paul said.
Paul and Taylor volunteer at the walk where, at age 5, Taylor was one of the youngest volunteers to ever help out at the event. Patricia has even gotten her Girl Scout troop to volunteer at the walk in the past.
“I hope we’ve encouraged more families to get involved. There’s a way for everyone to support the movement. Regardless of how young or old you are, or whether you have MS or not, there’s a way for you to join the movement to create a world free of MS and make a real difference,” Patricia said.
Ask Lake County self-help group leader Dave Johnson about his MS activism, and he immediately turns the attention to others. This year, Pity-Us-Not, Johnson’s group, formed a 32-member walkMS team. Of this team, two live in assisted living facilities. “Normally, you might say their physical abilities are limited, but not when it comes to fund raising,” Dave exclaimed. “One team member, Pamela Harwin, sat outside the facility in her wheelchair and sold pens and pencils to people coming in. With the help of another resident, she raised $350 this way.”
“Then there’s JoAnne Anderson,” he continued. “She can only move her neck, but she used her voice-activated phone to call her friends and ask for donations. The checks rolled in regularly and she kept this up all the way until the deadline when she reached her goal of breaking $1,000.
“When I took over this self-help group last July, I’d been wanting to do some fundraising for a while. When Jamie Elasick called from the chapter and asked to visit the group to talk about the upcoming walk, it put a smile on my face because I had missed the previous year’s walk,” Dave said.
As team captain, Dave helped set up team member’s websites, picked up donations, and kept track of member’s fundraising totals. Because a number of other group members were having difficulties with mobility, he ordered pens, keychains and other items for them to sell. In its first year, the Pity-Us-Not team raised $6,900 and Dave hopes to top that total next year.
As enthusiastic as he is about the team’s fundraising success, Dave admits that raising money is not his only motivation. “I loved every bit of this volunteer work both in heading up the group and helping out with fundraising, but I have a selfish reason for being involved. I go to visit Pam and Joanne and now a third team member who lives in a Pam’s facility and they cheer me up every time,” he said. “Here are the ones who are in the worst of shape physically and yet they have the best outlook. They set quite an example and I’m constantly inspired by them.”