Success is when people with MS and those connected to the cause speak out on issues important to them, ask for change, and work with public officials to address them in a positive way. Meet a few of our MS activists.
New Bern, NC
Renee Barnwell and her parents, Sydney and Mary Barnwell, are tireless activists for the New Bern community, public health and MS. This year the Barnwells attended Advocacy Day at the NC General Assembly to promote the Bike MS: Historic New Bern Ride 2009 and request that legislator leaders take a fair and balanced approach developing the state budget. Renee was diagnosed with MS 24 years ago and this was their second year participating in MS Advocacy Day. Mary advocates because she believes for some reason or another multiple sclerosis is becoming more and more of a problem and “in order to find a cure, we must advocate for it.” Mary claims, “The research that can be done can avoid so many cases of people being diagnosed with this disease and also help those who already are.”
Sarah Mayfield and Audrey Fields
Sarah and Audrey met after Audrey was diagnosed with MS 7 years ago. Together, they are a dynamic duo, leading a self-help group and advocating for state and policy issues important to them and others living with MS. At this year’s MS Advocacy Day at the NC General Assembly, Sarah and Audrey were asked why they are involved.
“One person can make a huge difference; you can reach others and encourage others with your story," says Sarah. "The best way to get people involved. It is like a domino effect where once you touch someone with your story, it will affect a chain of other individuals, and hopefully in that sense people will be less nervous and come out and advocate for it.”
Audrey confirms, “I was nervous, I’m still nervous. But don’t get nervous because you are asking people you put in office to carry out your issues, to support your issues, to fund money and to support the National MS Society. We all need to get involved because it takes not only one, but everybody to make anything successful.”
Lori McKee traveled to Washington, DC this spring to visit with members of Congress and represent the interests of those affected by multiple sclerosis. She is pictured here with her Congressman, G.K. Butterfield.
Lori is a veteran living with MS and her passion is outreach and advocacy for other veterans living with MS. Lori is a founding member of the Chapter’s Veterans Action Leadership Team. She strongly supports the Society’s efforts to attain furthering research efforts through the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs. And, to better manage trends among veterans and all people living with MS, she lobbied Congress for the need for a National MS and Parkinson’s Disease Registry to better determine incidence and prevalence.
Linda Woodall was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999 and is an MS activist
She has volunteered with the National MS Society for over 8 years, and has only missed one MS Advocacy Day due to a MS exacerbation.
In 2006, she was awarded Activist of the Year and attended the National MS Society Public Policy Conference in Washington, DC.
Linda believes, “Being an activist is a way to help take control of your MS. I found that putting a face on MS made it easier for our legislators to realize that there are a lot of people in our state with MS. It’s not just a statistic, we’re people. I simply tell my story, deep from the heart.”
Linda states, “Our representatives stop and take the time to talk with us. I look forward to thanking them and really pushing the elimination of the Medicare two-year waiting period.”
For Linda, she had worked for years as a billing manager and when she became disabled due to MS, she felt lost for a while. She was reading the National MS Society's website and when she saw the section about volunteering, she signed right up.