When Karen Francisco was diagnosed with MS in December of 2003, she thought her life was over. The news that she had MS affected Karen in ways she never expected. But ever since she started to volunteer at Walk MS, her attitude has definitely improved. Seeing volunteers who were in wheelchairs and using canes showed Karen that she could give up; no matter what the future holds, she has to keep going forward. After all, these new friends she had been making were moving forward, so why couldn’t she?
Karen’s persistent son, Scott, tried for two years to get her to participate in either Walk MS or Bike MS. In 2005, his persistence paid off when they created the team Ironic Stompin’ and were out in full force at Walk MS. That first year the team consisted of Karen, her husband, son, daughter-in-law and 10 month old granddaughter. They were all thrilled to walk for someone they loved and cared deeply about.
While 2005 would be the last time Karen would walk in the event, she started volunteering annually at the South Sound Walk MS in 2010 and has been volunteering ever since.
With all of her experience in previous events, Karen was kind enough to give some friendly advice to new volunteers, “Help where you can. The only way these events can happen is with the help of many. If the work seems overwhelming, just remind yourself you’re doing this for all those who can’t. Finding a cure is a battle that we can – and will – win.”
If you run into Karen at the South Sound Walk MS next year, be sure to give her a high five for all of her hard work over the years. She is a welcomed source of positivity that every walk would be lucky to have!
It may be cold in Alaska, but Michael Frost’s energy and spirit bring warmth to Walk MS in Anchorage! Michael – and as many as six of the therapy dogs he breeds – will be helping out in Anchorage again this year. Michael is always thrilled when family and friends come and help greet walkers at Rest Stop #2 in support of his sister and many of his friends who are living with MS.
When Michael isn’t volunteering at Walk MS, he and his therapy dogs help out at a local hospital bringing joy and helpful company to those who need it.
These dogs helped Michael charm walkers in Anchorage in 2012, Michael’s first year of volunteering. “I didn't know how much to do the first year operating a rest stop, so I apparently went overboard. I brought my motorhome out, opened the canopy up and we all gathered under the canopy and visited with each other and the walkers. We also included our therapy dogs. Sharing our animals with people to make their days better gives my group much pleasure.”
Michael advises new volunteers to just have fun and make the event a memorable experience. According to Michael, “The 2012 Anchorage Walk MS was windy and cold, but we had fun anyway. The dogs were our heaters and we passed them around to keep each other warm.”
If you plan on attending the Anchorage walk this year, make it your duty to visit the Frost Crew at Rest Stop #2. You will meet a great volunteer as you warm yourself up with his therapy dogs and the heaters he promises to bring this year.