Meet Walk MS Cedar Rapids Ambassador Emily Britt, diagnosed Sept. 19, 2010
Emily Britt, Iowa City, IA, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in September 2010, just one year after her second daughter was born. An Iowa transplant, Emily and her husband Jeremy and two daughters moved from Dallas just this past summer so Jeremy could continue his career in medical research at the University of Iowa. Emily hopes that by sharing her MS story, she can be a source of encouragement to others living with the disease in her community.
In what way has MS made the biggest impact on your life?
MS has caused me to constantly re-evaluate what is important in my life! However, it has also been the "thing" that causes me to STOP, SLOW DOWN and ENJOY my life!
I am a planner, I did not plan for MS; it threw somewhat of a large boulder into my path. However, I have learned how to navigate and climb over the boulder, enjoy the different points of view I can have and how to make the most of out of the climb … the walk … my life!
Why did you decide to participate in Walk MS?
Walking with a large group of people who understand how I feel, to see the people supporting others and to show my two girls that their mom wants to be strong. Those are just some of my main motivations for participating in Walk MS.
What’s your favorite thing about Walk MS?
I love seeing the many faces of MS, knowing what it does to us; it is a blessing to see that we aren’t letting it keep us down, alone and helpless. We are working together, to make a difference in the world of MS, to make a difference in the many lives affected in different ways by MS!
How many years have you participated in the event?
This year is my second year for my family and me to walk together! It will be my first year without my main support system, but I am happy to report that my "support system" back in Texas will be walking on my behalf in March 2013!
How else are you involved in the National MS Society in other ways besides Walk MS?
This year is actually a very big and exciting year for me. I am accomplishing a few life goals this year through the National MS Society here in Iowa City, Iowa. Along with getting the opportunity to represent Walk MS Cedar Rapids as an ambassador, I also have the amazing privilege to start up a new support group in Iowa City. We currently have about two people diagnosed a week at the University of Iowa. My vision is that we are able to reach out to those who are newly diagnosed and connect them with others who have been learning through their disease, to offer hope and encouragement and hopefully use that to encourage others!
I am also getting to participate through research being conducted to link healthy eating to recovery, reclaiming what has been lost to MS.
What is one thing you wish people could understand about MS?
I mostly want people to understand that the unpredictability of this disease does not have to take everything away from you. It changes things certainly; however, it does not END everything! I want to encourage those living with MS to give themselves the time they need, to rest, to move a little slower sometimes, but to understand that our bodies require this of us.
I want to help those living with MS understand that they will be the way we understand this disease — speak out!
I want to encourage those who support and care for someone with MS to listen! Even when it’s hard, WE NEED YOU!
MS is not a disease you want to take on alone; the connections, the relationships are what will get us through.
What is the most important, meaningful or memorable connection you have made since being diagnosed with MS or having someone close to you diagnosed?
In a way, one of the most important things that has happened is that I have become willing to be vulnerable, I have been able to see people using their gifts, which makes them happy, in helping me, either in listening, helping me around the house, helping with my kids, etc., which makes me happy.
I have met so many incredible people along the way: nurses, doctors, receptionists, radiologists, people who I have shared a table with at National MS Society Conferences or luncheons. It helps me see how big this disease is, but also how much bigger are the people trying to make a difference!
What makes you a great walk ambassador?
One of my life goals has always been to be a public speaker. I have a lot of passion for encouraging people, so I feel being able to have this title gives me the ability to use my gifts. It is such an honor.
What makes your story with MS unique?
When I was diagnosed, I only had one experience with MS, pain and death, which left me feeling empty. But I had too much going on in my life for me to be empty. I still had so much life to do, so I think what makes my experience unique is that I am looking at MS differently. I look at all of the people I have met because of MS that I may not have ever met. I have pushed my limitations and want to keep pushing them. I really want to make a difference, and I feel like that opportunity has been presented to me. Now it’s up to me to take the next steps. My goal is to make connections to END MS!
Emily may be reached for interviews at email@example.com. To speak with a National MS Society, Upper Midwest Chapter spokesperson, please contact Anna at 612-335-7918 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Walk MS 2013
Join Emily and thousands of others by getting involved in Walk MS. To learn more, register or donate, visit myMSwalk.org.