The Mid America Chapter is fortunate to have many volunteers who are dedicated to furthering the mission of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. We could not accomplish all we do without the hard work and dedication of our volunteers.
See what some of our amazing volunteers have said about their service below. We hope that by reading their story, you will be inspired to Join the Movement!
If you would like to submit your story, please click here:
Tony Moellman, Kansas City, MO
Tony Moellman from Kansas City, Missouri, began his volunteer work with the Society at our Gateway Chapter in St. Louis in 2009. When Tony moved to the Kansas City area, he eagerly looked up the Mid America Chapter to seek opportunities to volunteer!Tony volunteers in the office as well as with Walk MS, Bike MS and the Dinner of Champions. Tony also helps with data entry and registrations throughout the year. The Mid America Chapter asked Jeff to share his story of volunteerism with the National MS Society:
Since I was diagnosed with MS in 2007, I wanted to be part of a team that is actively searching for ways to help find a cure for this disease! As a volunteer, I learn firsthand about new therapies in the pipeline and I can share my knowledge with others.
In past years, I have been involved with Walk MS and I have also helped with the coordination of the Bike MS and the MuckFest MS volunteers! Two days a week, I come into the Kansas City Office and will do various tasks that need to be completed.
Bill Kennedy, Manhattan, KS
Bill Kennedy of Manhattan, Kansas, started volunteering with the National MS Society in 1998. When Bill first started volunteering, he did not know anything about MS. Bill’s partnership with the National MS Society began as a participant in Bike MS. He now volunteers with Legislative Action Day, Traveling Turkeys and Bike MS. Bill is always willing to lend a helping hand as needed. The Mid America Chapter asked Bill to share his story of volunteerism with the National MS Society:
In August 1996, at age 54, I got careless and wrecked on a bike ride, breaking too many bones. Recovering, I began to ride again, and in June 1998 brought my heavy, old, wrecked bike to
The Pathfinder Store for repairs. There I found the flier, M.S. 150 Challenge. Could I ride 100 miles in a day? I swallowed that hook. I knew nothing about MS, or chamois lined pants, or X.T.R shifters; I didn’t own a helmet or gloves. I knew I wanted to find out whether I could ride a 100 miles in a day. (My wife later told me she wished I had talked it over with her first.) I joined a local team and started to raise money. I then got a new bike.
On a Saturday night in September, 1998, in the auditorium at Emporia High School, tired and beaten up by my first MS 100 mile ride, I learned what MS does to people. As a Riley County Attorney I had worked constantly with families attacked and torn apart by physical abuse. That night I heard from families attacked by MS. The similarities and differences of the people living with MS and their families tell the tale. With this knowledge and motivation, I have doubled and re-doubled my collection efforts.
That night I learned that MS is beating on people just as crime is beating on people, and that the funds I raised were helpful and well used. I also found that my involvement was doing me a world of good. I have met wonderful people. I have broadened my horizons and I have stayed young. I have involved my entire family, including extended family. I have ridden with all five of my children. I learned how lucky I am. I have stayed young.
Now known as Bike MS, the annual ride has become my Christmas. It’s big in my life. The bones I broke are all healed, while MS has no known cause and no known cure.
When I rode my first Bike MS event, I knew nothing about MS, and didn’t think I knew anyone with MS. Since then, I have learned about MS, I have learned that many of my friends and family have MS, and I have been dedicated to helping defeat this disease. I am extremely impressed by the effort made by many, many people to end MS. I have ridden my bicycle with people living with MS who carry on in the ride against extreme adversity. They honor me with their presence and kindness.
Shatoya Bland, Kansas City, MO
Shatoya Bland of Kansas City, Missouri, started volunteering in the Kansas City office of the National MS Society in 2008. Shatoya volunteers in the office providing much needed assistance for the Chapter’s Traveling Turkeys Program and Midwest Teleconference Series. She has also helped at Walk MS and Bike MS. The Mid America Chapter asked Shatoya to share her story of volunteerism with the National MS Society:
I am a member of Phi Nu Kappa Sorority, Inc. which is a non-collegiate social/service organization for women. As a member we take pride in bettering the community. During my move back to Kansas City, I had to find somewhere to give my time and dedication to make that difference. I participate in many other projects throughout Kansas City but the National MS Society has become one that I feel makes a major difference not only in my life but also those with MS. When I started I had no idea of the impact this organization would have on my life or the position I would be in today. The staff always gives me a sense of appreciation and importance for the help I give which makes me what to do more and come more often. I've volunteered for Walk MS and Bike MS, Traveling Turkeys, and the Midwest Teleconferences. In the past years, I have had friends diagnosed with MS and a concern of my own as well. I am thankful for the things I have learned and the resources that this organization provides. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to service this organization in the name of my organization but also personally as I consider many people on the staff new found friends. I could not ask for a more warming place to spend my time.
Barbara Stahl, Overland Park, KS
Barbara Stahl of Overland Park, Kansas, started volunteering with the National MS Society in 2010. Barbara provides in-office support primarily for the Programs Department by assisting with mailings for Talk MS, Connection Groups, Scholarship Program and Professional Education mailings. Barbara also assembles packets of information for Connection Groups, and other various projects. She also provides support as needed for other departments within the Chapter Office.The Mid America Chapter asked Barbara to share her story of volunteerism with the National MS Society:
I worked through the years as a front office receptionist in physician's offices. Once I no longer worked, I had time to volunteer. I have volunteered for various organizations including American Heart Association and Head Start over the past several years. Three years ago I was looking for an organization to offer my time and skills in an office environment. That is when I found the MS Society and have been here ever since.
Catherine Crichton Reed, Prairie Village, KS
Catherine Crichton-Reed of Prairie Village, Kansas, has been volunteering in a variety of ways since 2009. Catherine is a key volunteer in the Friendly Faces and Caring Connections programs, which provide visits to those living with MS in long term care facilities.
Catherine began her career working with professional education for allied health professionals, later making a career change to become a pharmaceutical representative. She found great success as she traveled throughout Western Kansas. Early MS symptoms made the long drives challenging, but a company merger brought Catherine back to Kansas City and provided a territory that required far less driving. In the next several years she excelled in her career and enjoyed her success. When another merger changed her territory and required her to again travel, she experienced a major relapse. Catherine’s disease course limited her ability to travel and eventually led her to long term disability. Catherine says she fought leaving the work force. “I felt like I was losing my identity.” In 2009, Catherine’s physical therapist, Deanna Markley, also a volunteer with the Mid America Chapter, suggested she look into getting involved as a volunteer. She began volunteering in the office, happily taking on whatever needed to be done.Catherine serves on the Long Term Care Visit Committee. The committee provides advice and direction on the growth of the program locally, while working to make the program available to those who can benefit from it. She readily encourages friends and contacts to also volunteer. “Anytime one is able to interact with others, it’s positive. It’s good for the brain to have new tasks and activities, to keep thinking, keep doing.” Catherine adds, “We are all part of a bigger picture where we all can contribute.” Volunteering can provide opportunities to stay engaged and contribute, even when MS has made it difficult to work or do other tasks.
Cindy Shaffer, Wichita, KS
Cindy Shaffer from Wichita, Kansas, has been volunteering with the National MS Society since 2000. Her journey with the Society began when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999. Cindy is involved in all aspects of the Society. Over the past decade she has been involved with the Wichita Board of Directors, various committees, Walk MS, Bike MS, Dinner of Champions, Advocacy and Legislative Action Day, Social and Family Programs, Educational Programs, In-Office Support, and numerous Awareness activities across the Chapter.The Mid America Chapter asked Cindy to share her story of volunteerism with the National MS Society:
I became involved with the Society a few days after my diagnosed, when I walked in the door and said, "I need information." I captained a Walk team the next April and my involvement has continued from there. When I retired from my job as a school principal in 2003, I quickly found that I needed something else to do and told our office staff that I would help in any way I could. I was soon asked to serve on the Walk MS Committee, Client Programs Committee, Government Relations Committee and the local Board. I then went on to serve at the National level as a member of the National Programs Advisory Committee (6 year project). Through my involvement with that group, I was asked to contribute to the children's newsletter, Keep S’myelin. Because of my years of experience in the education world, I was asked to serve on the Pediatric Advisory Committee that was monitoring a grant program to implement protocols and serve children, and their families, who were diagnosed with MS or ADEM (5 year project). As a member of that committee I contributed to the development of a handbook for educators, entitled, "Students with MS and the Academic Setting: A Handbook for School Personnel.” While serving on those committees, I made five trips to Washington, DC for the Public Policy Conference. I currently co-chair our Government Relations Committee and have gone to Topeka, Kansas, for various lobby days. I have spoken at numerous events, such as Dinner of Champions, Bike MS dinner, Connection Groups, Kansas Home Care Association, Kiwanis groups and the Auto-Immune Disease Conference sponsored by the American Red Cross. I have also served as a Peer Counselor, (a program through All America Chapter), read numerous Scholarships applications, and assisted on a committee to determine financial assistance awards. Through staff, I was referred for consideration as a Patient Advocate and was trained for that work in 2005. Traveling Turkeys and assorted office projects were thrown in there as well.
The National MS Society has given me an opportunity to continue my life-long pursuit of education, by providing opportunities for me to continue learning and to share my experiences with others. It has also provided support and information for me and my family as we have lived and aged with MS. My husband, daughter, son-in-law, and Aunt, are all involved with projects and programs offered by the Society. It is truly a family affair at our house. I have met wonderful people, made great friends, gained support and supported others. The Society makes life with MS, an easier prospect for all of us. I am truly humbled by the commitment of staff throughout the organization and value the friendships I have made through my involvement with various committees and groups.
Thank you Cindy for sharing your story with us! If you would like to “share your story,” go to www.msmidamerica.org and click on Volunteers then Share Your Story. Sign up to volunteer today and share your talents like Cindy!
Jeff Putnam, Omaha, NE
Jeff Putnam from Omaha, Nebraska, started volunteering in 2011 as a member of the Nebraska Government Relations Committee. Jeff donates his time and talents to Bike MS, On the Move Luncheon and Advocacy efforts with the Mid America Chapter. The Mid America Chapter asked Jeff to share his story of volunteerism with the National MS Society:
After suffering from a quick onset of symptoms, I was diagnosed with MS in 2005. At that time I found and referenced the National MS Society website to learn about the disease and understand my condition. The Society provided me with a wealth of information and gave me the opportunity to move forward with comprehensive knowledge of my disease. Since my diagnosis, I came to realize that most people really don't understand MS. The more I spoke with people, the more I understood the importance of MS education - whether it be with family members/friends or legislators. Many people simply do not understand the nature of MS and it's far reaching effects. I became involved in the Nebraska Government Relations Committee and have found this to be a wonderful opportunity to educate legislators of MS and how they can have a direct influence on those suffering with MS. As an attorney representing the injured, I understand the importance of educating and advocating on behalf of those who may not have the means or organization to do so. The National MS Society is an important organization and I am honored to be helping out with the Society.
Thank you Jeff for sharing your story with us! If you would like to “share your story,” go to www.msmidamerica.org and click on Volunteers then Share Your Story. Sign up to volunteer today and share your talents like Jeff!
Don Garrett, Springfield, MO
I have been involved with the MS Society for over 10 years. I have been a captain for a walk team for 10 years, helped with Bike for several years, attended legislative day many times, helped with the holiday dinner and Traveling Turkey program. I have been on the Ozarks Advisory Board for the past three years. My wife had an initial diagnosis of MS and then cancer. I have friends with MS. I have been impressed by the hope that people with MS have. So, I share that hope, that soon we will find the "deal" (cure). Being a part of the National MS Society has become part of who I am and I am a better person for being a part of it.
Stacy Boring, Wichita, KS
I began volunteering for the MS Society after having two heart attacks and almost losing my life at the age of 29. I thought that giving back would be a great way for me to spend some of my free time. I was given a second chance, why not do good with it! I choose the MS Society because of the values they stand for and because I know that they use all resources for the cause and not personal gain.
Michelle Dorland, Springfield, MO
My husband and I got involved because of friends riding in Bike MS. We are SAG drivers. We got to know lots of riders and staff. We had several riders and staff just fall in love with us and we did them as well. We will always be a part of Bike MS as long as they let us.
Pamela Alquest, Wichita, KS
The Costuming Group I am with started participating three years ago with Walk MS. We are a group of Star Wars costumers and we love to attend charity events to help raise awareness for all kinds of charities. The adults and children love us and we are happy to do everything we can. We are planning this year to be a part of the 25th anniversary of the Autumn Trails Classic Bike MS event here in Kansas. We are so looking forward to running one of the rest/sag stops and being there for everyone and to have fun with the wonderful cause.
Alice Greenfield, Springfield, MO
When I was in nursing school, I had a classmate whom I learned had MS when the stressors of school became so great she became too ill to continue. After graduation, I became a hospice nurse and had the privilege of caring for several MS patients. Sharing their last stages of this disease touched my heart deeply. I then learned my former schoolmate died from her disease. I started biking and heard about Bike MS. I decided to ride in it and loved the event so much, the next year I became a volunteer. I ride for the friends and victims of this disease.
Tom Nutt, Joplin, MO
Our time on this earth is a gift from God that passes all too quickly. What we choose to do with this time is what makes each of us who we are. I have had several friends and a dear cousin who have passed from this earth due to complications from MS. Most of us who live in this great nation have been blessed with riches in this life, but may feel like we don't have much to give. I am no exception, I always felt like I would like to be able to contribute more to help in the fight against MS but little extra to give. What I can do is give a few hours of my time which happens to be the most valuable commodity that any of us have. Just ask someone who has MS and you will see just how much time is worth. If all of us can give a few hours to help in this cause, we may make it possible for someone we love to live a few hours longer. How can we not help? I have been so blessed by the few hours I have spent serving others who have MS. Multiply your blessings and theirs by giving of yourself. If you can donate financially please do so, if you can give of your time please do. You will never be sorry! Thanks for letting me help.
John Holder, Springfield, MO
Before moving to Springfield, I had been involved in a local community event. After moving to Springfield, I wanted to "give back" some. My wife had ridden the MS 150 a couple of years before we were married and suggested that we might volunteer. Well, that was 12 years ago and we have not missed a ride or a walk in our area as volunteers. One of the best things my wife and I get to do is to play Santa and Mrs. Claus each year for the Holiday party for people with MS. Talk about getting your "warm fuzzies." We look forward to many more years involvement with the Society.
Dave Nelson, Billings, MO
I rode in the MS bike ride a few years ago and had a wonderful time and the volunteers were great and I wanted to be part of that group.
LaShonda Garnes, Wichita, KS
MS has affected my life since 2003 when I was initially diagnosed. I have been living a healthy life since my diagnosis and original symptoms of loss of vision and an inability to walk. As God blessed me to regain those abilities I have continued to live with MS without have any exacerbations since 2003. I have been involved with the MS Society by volunteering at Walk MS and raising funds to support the cause. It is a great experience and I have enjoyed seeing that people can live a full life with MS and those that have limitations are still happy. When I did my first Walk MS with my family, I realized there was more that I could do so I decide to volunteer with Bike MS so that I can continue to be a part of the solution.
Don Birt, Bolivar, MO
I started volunteering as a favor to a longtime friend whom has MS that had been motorcycle escorting the local bike event, after some grumping and growling I decided why not. Seven years later I find myself not only being the leader of the motorcycles and on the Bike MS Planning Committee, having fun and to uncountable number of smiles and thank you's but looking forward to the next year of being a part of making a difference that affects so many!
Kathy Grover, Springfield, MO
The daughter-in-law of a co-worker has MS. She invited me to help with Bike MS a few years ago. This co-worker volunteers for an event to raise funds for a charity that benefits an organization that helped my granddaughter, son and daughter-in-law when my granddaughter was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Both the MS Society and the other organization are worthy of our time and effort to raise funds to further the research to treat and hopefully eliminate MS and cancer.
Buck Van Hooser, Springfield, MO
I got involved after buying an old mountain bike and, saw the TV spot for Bike MS. I said to my wife, "Let's do it". She responded, "Sure"! Gulp! I was committed. I rode 3,000 miles training for that ride. It was brutal, but then I experienced the people that have MS. They were so appreciative. They were on the sides of the road, cheering us on, telling us thank you, etc. They came by our table to thank us, with tears in their eyes. So very moving. I was hooked and, have been for 14 years. Anytime I feel sorry for myself, I remember what they endure. That makes it easier to push myself through to success and, stay involved as a volunteer. They are amazing people. How could I not love them and, want to help? I get so much back in return, with more than is space to write here.
Joe Johnson, Springfield, MO
I started bicycling in 1991 with a goal to ride and complete Bike MS. I did accomplish the event and it was such a satisfying accomplishment that I chose to become more involved with the event to the extent that I served on the local MS Advisory Board for five years. Twenty years later I am still riding and volunteering for the event with occasionally helping with Walk MS. The past three years, my wife has joined in riding the event as we ride our tandem in honor of a couple of our friends and a co-worker.
Sue George, Springfield, MO
I became involved with the MS Society when I was diagnosed in 1998. My first volunteer activity was at the first rest stop of Bike MS. When I saw the spokes of the tires coming around the corner with the sun coming up it brought tears to my eyes. That all of these people would do this for people like me was overwhelming. I started riding my bike and continued to volunteer and never looked back!
Jerry Davis, Republic, MO
After my wife was told she had MS, our life was changed. She has a difficult time walking, something we enjoyed doing. She has difficulty feeling things in her right hand at times, causing her to drop things, making her very upset. We cannot do all the things we use to do, but have made the sacrifices as needed. My wife, kids and I work at the walks and bike rides. She does what she can and we do the rest. Since we have started I have learned so much more about MS and feel like I am doing something to help. My getting started was by overhearing a conversation. A lady was speaking to someone else. When she finished I asked her some questions and within several minutes, I was volunteering to help. I enjoy helping and look forward to a very long relationship with the MS Society.
Jennifer San Paolo, Springfield, MO
I have had MS for 17 years now and I have experienced almost every symptom commonly mentioned when describing it. I got involved with the Society before I was diagnosed through the MS Read-a-Thon when I was young, and since diagnosis I have enjoyed sharing my story with others and meeting others who have had similar experiences. I enjoy fund-raising through the Walk and supporting the Society in any way I can as they have supported me through the use of the medical equipment loan closet and information booklets.
Kim Callahan, Springfield, MO
A friend was diagnosed with MS in 2008. We volunteered at a Bike MS rest stop later that year and I have been volunteering at Bike MS and Walk MS ever since. During that time, I've learned of friends who know others with MS and in two instances provide some resources to newly diagnosed individuals. I've also been pleasantly surprised to find coworkers and other friends already involved in volunteering for the MS Society. Volunteering is not just personally rewarding, but this is a fun group of people to be around! You don't have to make a large time commitment in order to make a difference.