The National MS Society is certainly not exempt from these financial stresses. Chapter staff and fundraising participants are working harder than ever to raise the funds necessary to sustain the progress made in ground-breaking MS research and to continue to offer highly effective and essential help to people who have MS. And, we thank them for their gallant efforts. However, the Chapter already experienced a decrease in revenue that forced budget cuts across all activities.
Our priority remains our mission—to mobilize people and resources to drive research for a cure and to address the challenges of everyone affected by MS—which as recently revised clearly illustrates our unchanging focus on helping people with MS and on funding MS research. Yet, as with personal finances, the Chapter cannot spend more than we have. Some programming has been reduced. And fewer fundraising dollars necessarily mean lower funding for MS research.
However, we continue to move forward. The Chapter Board of Trustees recently approved financial and programmatic support to develop the first ‘MS Green House’® dedicated to people with MS who require life-long skilled care. A Green House® is a new concept in long term care that emphasizes a true home environment (see cover story). If you have MS and need this type of care and living arrangement, contact Linda Guiod, Exec. V.P., Programs & Services. And, of course, we need to develop new funding streams to fulfill this obligation.
Every year, when the Society approves research for funding, it does so in advance of collecting donations. Projects are approved, and then money must be raised to fund them. This year, for the first time in many, many years, a number of approved research projects have remained unfunded because of a shortfall in fundraising nationally.
During these difficult times, your efforts to support the mission are even more necessary and appreciated. One of the most productive ways to help generate revenue, even if you are not in a position to give personally, is to reach out to family, friends, and coworkers, invite them to participate in Chapter activities, and ask them in turn to invite others. The best strategy against smaller donations is to increase the number of people who give. And, to achieve that, everyone who is connected to multiple sclerosis has a role to play.
Read through this issue of MSConnection and visit MSnewengland.org, find those fundraising events that appeal most to you (MS Challenge Walk, Bike MS, MS Auto Rally, Link Up for MS, and others), contact your family and friends, form a team and have a good time making a big difference in the lives of people with multiple sclerosis! Every dollar counts, now more than ever.
Thank you for all your good work and for your generous gifts of time, talent, and money. Together we will weather this economic storm, and we’ll be stronger for it as we continue moving forward to create a world free of MS.
Volunteers and staff gathered at the Massachusetts State House on March 4 to recognise MS Awareness Week, and to share MS information and ways to get involved with people on the street. Thanks to Fuze Beverages for donating orange Fuze drinks to distribute.
Fast Forward, LLC, a program of the National MS Society, recently garnered $19 million for early-stage MS research through a new partnership with EMD Serono.
“This partnership will provide critical resources to under-funded stages of the drug development process,” said Dr. Timothy Coetzee, Fast Forward’s executive director.
For more information, visit fastforward.org.
A minimum of two million people worldwide live with MS. This year, for the first time, 80 MS organizations around the globe are taking part in World MS Day on May 27, 2009.
In the United States, with the opportunity for health care reform a real possibility, the Society is asking all supporters of the MS movement to contact their federal legislators on World MS Day and voice support for universal health care coverage.
“There should be one global standard of health care to ensure that all people with MS can lead a life of possibility, dignity and fulfillment,” said Joyce Nelson, President and CEO of the National MS Society. “On World MS Day, Americans can do their part by showing their support for national health care reform.”
To learn more about the Society’s National Health Care Reform Principles and tips on contacting your legislators, visit nationalMSsociety.org and click Government Affairs & Advocacy in the gray bar at the top.
For more information on participants and activities, visit worldmsday.org.
Want to meet other people living with MS? Read about the latest MS research and therapies? Momentum, the national magazine of the Society, offers this and more.
Each issue of Momentum is online in convenient PDF format, free, and often before a print copy can reach your mailbox. Clickable links give you immediate access to more info on a given topic and allow you to respond to stories with your own thoughts and tips. Download and send any story to others via e-mail.
Go to nationalMSsociety.org/magazine and click on Current Issue or Find a Back Issue.
For Readers with Low Vision
Click on the magnifying glass icon to enlarge any Momentum page, two, three, even five times bigger.
Phil Keoghan, host of CBS’s “The Amazing Race,” is cycling across America–and he’s taking the Society with him. Join Phil on his ride as he raises awareness for MS. Visit philridesacrossamerica.com for more information.
By Allen C. Bowling, MD, PHD
Recent studies have significantly changed our understanding of the role of vitamin D in health and disease, and some of these new understandings have important implications for people with MS.
In the past, it was assumed that most people had adequate vitamin D levels and that the effects of vitamin D were restricted to regulating calcium absorption and maintaining bone health, including the prevention of osteoporosis (thinning bones). Studies over the past decade have shown that these views are incorrect and that up to 90% of American children and seniors may be vitamin D deficient.
Yes, It Matters
In addition to effects on calcium absorption and bone health, vitamin D exerts important actions on many other body systems, including the immune system. Adequate levels may improve muscle strength and prevent or decrease the severity of MS. Inadequate levels have been implicated in several forms of cancer, heart and lung diseases, depression, schizophrenia and a number of other autoimmune conditions.
Much additional research on vitamin D is clearly needed. But based on current information, there are options for people with MS to consider. One is to have a blood test known as “25-hydroxyvitamin D.” The test shows how much vitamin D is actually in a person’s body — and that’s the real measure of a deficient or adequate level. If the vitamin D level is low, supplements in appropriate doses can be taken.
Another option is simply to take vitamin D supplements without the blood test. The disadvantage of this “blind” approach is that vitamin D supplements may be unnecessary or the doses too small or too large.
The final option is to do nothing. People who take this option won’t spend money on testing or supplements, but if they are vitamin D deficient, they won’t obtain the potential benefits.
To determine an appropriate vitamin D strategy, people with MS should discuss their situation with their health-care provider.
Dr. Allen Bowling is the medical director of the Multiple Sclerosis Service at the Colorado Neurological Institute (CNI) and clinical associate professor of Neurology at the University of Colorado-Denver and Health Sciences Center. Additional information about unconventional medicine may be found in his book, Complementary and Alternative Medicine and Multiple Sclerosis (2nd edition, Demos Medical Publishing), and on his Web site, NeurologyCare.net.
Sources of Vitamin D
- Sunshine, BUT
- Most people with MS need to avoid overheating
- All people need protection from skin cancer (sunscreen, sunblock, hats, etc.)
- Fortified foods, including brands of orange juice, cereals, dairy products
- Oily fish, such as salmon