Moving forward, adapting to or overcoming the obstacles that we’re confronted by in life, is the kind of positive attitude that one encounters most frequently among people with multiple sclerosis. Of course, there is the initial shock, disbelief or fear that accompanies a diagnosis of MS. What comes next, how someone responds to that challenge is the important thing.
At the MileStones Gala in April of this year, the Greater New England Chapter had the privilege of honoring two remarkable families for their achievements in advancing the mission of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. The Lipcon & Palmer Family received the MileStones in Philanthropy Award for generating $2 million in fundraising and personal gifts. The R.J. Kelly Company received the Corporate MileStones Award, which was accepted by Brandon Kelly on behalf of the entire Kelly family, and for the support their company has generated for the movement to create a world free of MS.
At the center of the Lipcon and Palmer family are Jan and Eli Lipcon, whose lives were changed forever when Jan first experienced symptoms of multiple sclerosis in 1977. Within a couple of years, a diagnosis of Relapsing-Remitting MS was confirmed. Together, Eli and Jan have reached out to their strong network of friends and family to produce very impressive fundraising results for Walk MS and for Eli’s many runs on the Marathon Strides Against MS Team in the Boston Marathon®, plus numerous other fundraising events. Their two sons, James and Jacob, their wives, along with Jan’s and Eli’s siblings, have generously embraced the Society and its mission, and have generated significant fundraising on its behalf. Jan’s mother, Barbara Palmer, is also deeply supportive of the National MS Society, making annual gifts since Jan’s diagnosis. In 2004, she made a dramatic $1 million gift to establish the Palmer Collaborative MS Research Center Award: MS Targeted Haplotype Project that helped define a new field of genetics study for multiple sclerosis.
R.J. Kelly Company is a commercial and residential real estate development and management company founded by Richard J. Kelly in 1951. Now in the second generation of leadership, Richard’s sons Scott Kelly, senior vice president, and Brandon Kelly, president, run the company. Scott and Brandon’s mother, Laura Kelly, was diagnosed with MS in the mid 1970’s, when they were very young children. The Company has generously supported the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the Greater New England Chapter in its fundraising and awareness efforts, including annual support for the Wine & Dine for MS Dinner & Auction, and their sponsorship of the MileStones Gala. Individually, Brandon has participated in several Bike MS rides and served as the MileStones Co-Chairman alongside Chapter Trustee Cathy MacPherson.
Also at the MileStones Gala was singer, songwriter, musician, and producer, David Osmond, who was diagnosed with MS in 2006, and whose father, Alan Osmond, of the famous Osmond Brothers singing group, has been living with MS since the early 1990s. David’s musical career was nearly sidelined by the onset of his MS symptoms, but he has persevered and continues to perform with a new intensity and meaning to his music. His appearance at the MileStones Gala was one among his many appearances nationwide to help raise money and awareness of multiple sclerosis and of the National MS Society.
In each case, these families chose to move their lives forward following the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. They chose to engage with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to generate financial resources for research into the cause and cure of MS, and for MS education, support, advocacy, and services that benefit individuals and families who live with the unpredictability of the disease every day.
There are so many families in our Chapter area of Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont who have made the same choices and who work just as hard to create awareness, to fundraise, and to volunteer in support of Society activities. Whether you have time to volunteer, or a skill or expertise that will advance our work, or if you are motivated to ride, walk, run, golf, or sail to end MS, I invite everyone to join our extended Chapter family to share in the satisfaction that comes from knowing that you’ve taken action on behalf of a loved one with MS, and that you’ve made a difference in their lives and in the lives of so many others. Thank you for giving so generously of your time and talent and resources.
World MS Day unites individuals, groups, and organizations around the world through activities that promote a global awareness of the disease. The theme of World MS Day 2011 was Employment and multiple sclerosis: Keeping People with MS at Work. The Greater New England Chapter celebrated World MS Day in a variety of ways. Among them was outreach on Facebook encouraging members to display the World MS Day picBadge on their profile photo. This tactic helped spread the word about the day to thousands of individuals throughout our four-state area and beyond. Also on Facebook, on each of seven days leading up to the 25th, the Chapter posted links to content on www.WorldMSDay.org that shared tools and ideas for sharing the employment theme. Also, Genzyme Corporation, which has a new MS medication pending approval by the US FDA, invited Chapter Trustee Doug Bryant and his daughter, Carrie Bryant, to share their stories of MS with employees as part of their internal World MS Day celebration.