Jeff Viscount: Nine Years and Counting
In 2003, Jeff Viscount, of Charlotte, NC was prompted by his friends to ride in his first ever Bike MS: Breakaway to the Beach. At that point, Jeff didn’t know what multiple sclerosis was. Jeff recalls the event saying, “I remember doing the 65 mile Saturday route from Rockingham, NC and wondering if I would make it. I made it, and was hooked.”
Since then, Jeff has been involved with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society as a volunteer, participant, and staff member. Some of Jeff’s many hats include: volunteer on the Bike MS logistics committee, Bike MS Committee Chair, bike SAG at Challenge Walk event, Co-Captain of the Y Xtreme Cycling Team, and Bike Logistics Manager (staff) at the former Mid Atlantic Chapter.
“Over the years I have come to care for so many friends that I’ve met while volunteering and working for the MS Society. Some are living with MS and some have lost loved ones to MS. They all continue to motivate my support.”
So far, Jeff and his wife Anne have raised over $55,000 for the National MS Society. They are currently training for the 2012 Bike MS: Tour to Tanglewood and hope to raise $15,000. Jeff is also consulting with the Charlotte staff to plan the logistics of the 2012 Bike MS: Breakaway to the Beach ride. Jeff plans to continue volunteering for Walk and Bike MS events for years to come. He is inspired by watching participants complete their goals. One of Jeff’s most memorable moments is watching participants walk the final mile of the Challenge Walk, a 50 mile, three day event.
“It is a very powerful finish to the event that brings together the people with MS, participants, and volunteers in a way that no other MS event can, says Jeff.”
Paula Winkler: Making it Work
When the going gets tough, the tough get going and that’s just what Paula Winkler of Matthews, NC does. Motivated by her brother who was living with MS, Paula and her husband, Ward, took their first steps in the movement by participating in the 2002 Challenge walk and soon decided they needed to do more. Paula joined the Challenge Walk committee in 2007 and since then has become the committee chair and a true leader for the event. She loves being on the committee because she enjoys dealing with the details and working through the logistics.
She says, “I love organizing everything that goes into the event. I especially enjoy mapping the route.”
Through all the changes and challenges this event has faced, Paula has made it work! While the staff may refer to her as the Queen of Challenge Walk or Event Director, Paula thinks of herself as the Family Reunion Coordinator. “Everyone involved at the society has become family to Ward and I, and [the] Challenge walk is like our big family reunion. We love it.” Paula says.
Paula continued to get involved and take leadership roles in Service Days, The Great Gatsby Gala, Walk MS, and Bike MS. Paula also works full time, has two sons, and four young grandchildren. How can she balance it all? We aren’t sure, but she makes it work!
Franky Waters: A Master Mobilizer
Franky Waters of New Bern, NC is a master at mobilizing volunteers. A long-time volunteer herself, for the last seven years she has recruited local volunteers for Bike MS: Historic New Bern Ride. Her volunteers from the New Bern Woman’s Club serve in vital roles supporting the event. Franky has a very personal commitment to finding a cure for MS.
As she explains, “In 2003 I visited my 30 year old son who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. He was very excited to tell me about his new girlfriend. He also informed me that he was in love, and that Jenny (his new girlfriend) had been diagnosed with MS while working on her master’s degree at Cal Poly College. After meeting Jenny and learning more about multiple sclerosis, which can be a very debilitating disease, I became committed to helping to find a cure for MS in hopes of a better life for this lovely woman that my son loves.”
A few years later, Franky saw an ad in the local New Bern newspaper seeking volunteers to help at the annual Bike MS event. She called the Raleigh office, and learned that they needed a group of volunteers to make sandwiches to have at rest stops for the cyclists. As a member of the New Bern Woman’s Club, all it took was a few phone calls, and she very quickly recruited twenty club members who made 2,500 turkey wrap sandwiches.
Since then, with Franky as the volunteer coordinator, the club has increased its presence at Bike MS. Annually, over 30 volunteers, work as greeters, serve as bike room monitors and help with registration at the event. They play an integral role in making the event run smoothly. Franky says that the NBWC members are impressed by the professionalism of the cyclists, and they have commented many times that Franky has also received tremendous support from members of the Twin Rivers Shag Club and Trent Woods Garden Club, not to mention many of her close friends. So if Franky calls you to work one of the many position required to pull off this successful fundraiser, please say YES.
Cindy Russell: Volunteer Nurse
Cindy Russell of Raleigh, NC became a volunteer with the society in 2004. Cindy was working as a nurse with MS patients at a neurology practice when she became familiar with the programs and services the chapter offers to people living with MS. She began volunteering by serving on the first Kid’s Camp planning committee. Cindy has not only served on the planning committee since it began in 2004, but she has also served as the Camp Nurse every year. She uses her medical expertise to play an invaluable role, managing medications for the campers, checking on them during the weekend, and, if necessary, accompanying a camper to the hospital. She also builds relationships with the campers by participating in their activities. Campers returning year after year know Cindy, and she has become a vital part of the camp. Cindy not only volunteers at Kid’s Camp herself, she recruits other nurses to volunteer at the camp, and for several years she brought along her son, Sean, to volunteer.
Cindy has expanded her volunteer role beyond Kid’s Camp. She serves on the Nurse’s Speaker’s Bureau, volunteers as a medic at Bike MS, Walk MS and MuckRuckus MS, and she frequently shares Society publications and information with people newly diagnosed with MS. Cindy is a great example of a volunteer who uses her skills to provide vital support to the chapter and mobilizes other volunteers to serve as well.