David Wexler's Legacy in Building a World Free of MS
The MS community mourns the passing of David Wexler on April 7, 2009, at the age of 55.
After his MS diagnosis in 1996, David dedicated his life to inspiring others affected by the disease.
As a Minnesota Chapter self-help group leader for six years, David's optimistic outlook made him an ideal peer leader for others with MS. For example, David was enthusiastic about assistive devices that could enhance independence and quality of life. He encouraged friends with MS to be open to using assistive devices, provided demonstrations about how particular devices worked for him, and tinkered with devices in his quest to improve them. He was in the process of applying for a patent for one of his inventions.
In 2002, David brought his marketing, legal and fundraising expertise to the Minnesota Chapter's Board of Trustees, where he was a strong leader for five years. He joined the board with his personal mission to "help the chapter bring information, support and hope to people with MS and to gather resources to fund research for a cure."
David, who met his wife Jaclyn Thomas at a chapter event in 2000, once said, "Whenever MS takes something away from me, I find another thing to do that I enjoy.... If I never had MS, I would never have gone to the Singles Getaway and met Jackie.”
David and Jackie wed on July 10, 2004. Even amidst the excitement, they demonstrated their shared commitment to the MS movement by directing more than $20,000 in wedding gifts to the chapter.
David was recognized nationally for his extraordinary efforts as a volunteer fundraiser in 2005, when he was inducted into the National MS Society Fundraising Volunteer Hall of Fame. Just a few years after David was diagnosed, he began to participate in Walk MS — bringing his friends and family to the event each year. In just nine years, David raised and contributed more than $85,000.
David was passionate about MS research, and his annual gifts were major drivers of progressive MS research, including the MS Genome Project. He educated friends and relatives about research, and his speech at a chapter research symposium helped inspire one donor to make an unexpected contribution of $20,000. In 2005, David and Jackie hosted a reception in their home to share with guests some exciting news about pending research to uncover the genes involved in MS. As a result of this event and David’s willingness to invite family and friends to support MS research, the MS Genome Project received more than $250,000, which was one of the final gifts to move this project forward. The project went on to make history by identifying three genes involved in MS, and work continues to verify all genes involved in MS.
As an activist, David personally investigated accessible taxi services and reported the disparities he discovered to the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, which filed a charge of discrimination against a taxi company. The company agreed to stop charging a higher fare to passengers using wheelchairs and scooters.To help others become activists, David was a founding member of the chapter’s Public Education Advisory Group.
David never backed down from a chance to make a difference, and taught thousands of people that each of us, regardless of circumstances, has the power to leave an indelible mark on the world.