Meet Walk MS Bemidji Ambassador Ann Hayes,
diagnosed January 2007
Ann Hayes is this year’s Walk MS Bemidji Ambassador. A concert violinist, Ann is passionate about raising funds and awareness for the MS movement since being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2007.
In what way has MS made the biggest impact on your life?
It has forced me to reevaluate my life, priorities and independence. I still offer help to others when I can, but now I am learning not only to ask for help myself, but to accept it as well.
Why did you decide to participate in Walk MS?
Walk MS is a great way to meet people who are in various stages of their acceptance of this disease. Whether a caregiver, friend or a person with the disease, it is vital that there be a platform for communities to come together to listen, acknowledge, encourage and impart hope to each other as we actively raise research dollars together.
What’s your favorite thing about Walk MS?
It is a celebration! Individually, on a daily basis, each of us live with a disease that can sometimes knock the wind out of our sails. It can be hard to stay positive when you feel alone. Walk MS is a time to come together in a celebration of the talents we each have to give and an opportunity to build a sense of empowerment and self-worth through fundraising for a common cause.
Are you involved in the National MS Society in other ways besides Walk MS?
Walk MS Ambassadorship is my first involvement with the Society, although I have personally received a great deal of assistance through them. I look forward to giving back and becoming more involved.
What is one thing you wish people could understand about MS?
MS is a disease that destroys the communication lines of the central nervous system to muscles. It can happen to anyone, anytime, any age, regardless of family history. And while there is not a cure yet, there certainly is going to be one. Whether that is sooner rather than later depends on the dollars that each of us can generate through advocacy.
What makes you a great walk ambassador?
I am humbled to be asked to be an ambassador. Having been asked has made me dig deeper into my life with MS, and I am surprised to discover things about myself, which I hope will help me to understand and communicate better. I cannot say that I am a GREAT ambassador yet, but I will do my best to reach out and hopefully make a positive difference.
What makes your story with MS unique?
I seem to become involved in high-profile positions in the community. I had been a violinist all my life, was concertmaster of our local community orchestra and started a school of music and art. I worked for our local public television station for five years until I built, opened and became the “publican” of the Irish Pub, BRIGID’S CROSS, in the heart of downtown. I still play with the symphony but not as concertmaster. The Headwaters School of Music and The Arts continues to run without me, and I sold the pub in 2012. I miss everything about my former life/lives and hope to never take the lessons learned for granted. However, I consider myself to be between adventures where every day is a chance to “begin again.” My progressive MS is, undeniably, a part of my life. I might have to make accommodations for demands the disease places on me, but I am determined not to allow MS to define me.
Ann may be reached for interviews at 218-751-1541 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To speak with a National MS Society, Upper Midwest Chapter spokesperson, please contact Anna at 612-335-7918 or email@example.com.
Walk MS 2013
Join Ann and thousands of others by getting involved in Walk MS. To learn more, register or donate, visit myMSwalk.org.