Lawyer Reaches Amicable Settlement with MS
Walk MS isn’t normally a winter sport, but the first time Joseph Milizio went — shortly after a long-suspected diagnosis had been confirmed — a freak April snowstorm dropped three inches on Long Island.
Until that day, all Milizio knew about MS was how severely it had affected a childhood friend’s father. The sight of 2,000 people happily trudging through the white stuff made a different impression: that it’s possible to manage MS and live well with it.
“There was true camaraderie among the volunteers, the chapter staff and the participants. Everybody was very friendly, very welcoming. There was a sense of excitement,” he said.
That’s the day Milizio really joined the MS movement. He told colleagues at his law firm about the diagnosis, they formed a team, and Milizio grew so active that he joined the Long Island Chapter’s Walk MS committee and is now the chapter’s chairman.
The team grew fast and can now count on 85-100 participants every year. Even clients have joined. “It was surprising to me that so many people cared enough to join us. The unsurprising part was that I have a great group of people in my office who are always willing to participate and help each other out,” Milizio said.
The team’s motto: “We don’t fight all of our battles in court.”
Milizio and his teammates send out lots of fundraising letters, but their most successful tactic has been a dinner-dance. The 2008 edition was a costume party held just before Halloween (that’s Milizio, appropriately, as the ringleader) that raised more than $20,000.
Milizio has no visible symptoms and doesn’t make a habit of drawing attention to his MS, but he’s happy that word about him has spread: “People sort of use me as a clearinghouse now. I think people like to be reassured that there are others out there, still conducting their business on a day to day basis, and it doesn’t mean that they’re going to have to stop all activities that they’re engaged in.”
For anybody thinking of starting a Walk MS team, Milizio advises: “Tell everybody you know what you’re doing and ask them to join you. We always start with asking them to join the team, and if they tell us they’re not available or decline, then we ask them for a monetary donation.”
It works every time, he said: “It’s always one or the other.”