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MS Activists Inducted into the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Volunteer Hall of Fame

December 1, 2015

Washington, D.C. --  Six MS activists were recently inducted into the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Volunteer Hall of Fame during its annual Leadership Conference [held this year in Fort Worth, Texas] for their outstanding commitment to creating a world free of MS.  Volunteers are recognized for their contributions in the areas of advocacy, funding the mission, programs and services, health professional care, and scientific research. Honorees included:

The Society’s volunteers make the MS movement powerful. Every year, the Society inducts key volunteers in different topic areas—including Advocacy—into its Volunteer Hall of Fame. Congratulations to our 2015 Advocacy Volunteer Hall of Fame inductees: Frank Austin (Pennsylvania), Dan and Jennifer Digmann (Michigan), Weyman Johnson, Jr. (Georgia), Tammy Quasias (New Jersey), Seth Morgan, MD (Greater D.C.), Doug Toelle (Alaska), and Teresa Wynne (Texas).

 “We are so grateful for the unswerving commitment shown by our volunteers to our universal vision of ending MS forever. We thank and congratulate them on their remarkable achievements,” said Cyndi Zagieboylo, President and CEO of the National MS Society.

Frank Austin: A District Activist Leader and member of the Pennsylvania Government Relations
Committee, Frank Austin is committed to achieving quality, affordable healthcare for all. As a veteran living with MS, Frank is passionate about MS Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program funding and frequently utilizes social media to advocate for this and other priority issues. Frank annually secures MS awareness week proclamations across Pennsylvania and helps recruit new MS activists at Walk MS. Frank has testified at a Congressional roundtable about the importance of
MS data to advance research and his Congressman frequently sought Frank’s input during the drafting of the 21st Century Cures Act. Frank lived in California from his diagnosis of MS until moving to Pittsburgh in 2012. In 2008 he was honored as the Pacific South Coast Activist of the Year.

Dan and Jennifer Digmann: Jennifer and Dan Digmann met at a National MS Society event in 2002. Jennifer had been diagnosed with MS 1997, Dan in 2000. The two were married in 2005 and have dedicated their lives to MS activism and helping others live well with MS. Dan and Jennifer serve as District Activist Leaders, co-lead an MS self-help group, co-captain a Walk MS team, blog together and co-wrote the book, “Despite MS, to Spite MS.” They share their inspirational self-advocacy stories nationwide. They have worked tirelessly to advance federal legislation for Complex Rehabilitation Technology as well as Michigan funding of home-care options. In 2013, the couple received a “Declaration of Special Tribute” from the Michigan Senate, signed by the Governor, to recognize them for their “standout work and activism within the multiple sclerosis community.”

Weyman Johnson, Jr: Weyman Johnson is former chair of the Society’s National Board of Directors, and has been a member of the Georgia Board of Trustees since 1988, serving as chair from 1990-1994. He joined the board of the MS International Federation in 2004 and currently serves as its chair. Weyman’s father and aunt lived with MS, his sister lives with MS, and Weyman received his own diagnosis of MS in 1990. Weyman is a persuasive advocate to increase funding levels at the National Institutes of Health and MS Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program, and more. At the Society’s 2015 Public Policy Conference, he led a panel discussion on the importance of determining the number of Americans that live MS — the Advancing Research for Neurological Diseases Act — to move research forward, faster.

Tammy Quasius: A few years after her diagnosis with MS, Tammy Quasius attended an MS State Action Day at the New Jersey State Capitol. Since that day she has been a passionate MS activist. Tammy shares her personal experience of living with MS as a young mother in order to compel legislators to support the MS movement. As a District Activist Leader, the relationships that Tammy has solidified with her representative and several other members of her state delegation have led to increased support of federal medical research, the MS Caucus and other legislative priorities. Tammy and her family support many Society events, including Women on the Move and Bike MS, and Tammy regularly invites legislators to attend and become more connected to our mission.

Seth Morgan, MD: After treating hundreds of people with MS during his 23-year career as a clinical
neurologist, Dr. Seth Morgan was diagnosed with MS in 2004. He retired two years later and turned his focus to MS activism. Seth has attended the Society’s Public Policy Conference and Maryland State Action Day, and serves as a District Activist Leader. Seth is a long-time member and now chair of the of Montgomery County, Maryland Commission on People with Disabilities, which works to increase awareness of and action on disability issues, including the Americans with Disabilities Act. Seth is a consumer reviewer for the Department of Defense MS Research Program, has testified at U.S. Food and Drug Administration hearings and joined the Rally for Medical Research.

Doug Toelle: After being diagnosed with MS in 2000, one of Doug Toelle’s first connections
to the Society was a Walk MS event near his home in Fairbanks, Alaska. True to his activist nature, Doug contacted the Society after the event to suggest improvements. Doug is a proactive and persistent advocate who has forged strong relationships with his local, state and federal legislators. He has helped advance priorities in Alaska including disability awareness training for first responders, creating an employment-first state, supporting Medicaid expansion and improving access to durable medical equipment. Doug is a longtime attendee of the Society’s annual Public Policy Conference and a mentor to other MS activists, in addition to being a self-help group leader and Walk MS fundraiser.

Teresa Wynne: When Teresa Wynne was diagnosed with MS in 2003, she realized that she needed to restructure her life and priorities. While continuing her successful career as a technical trainer, Teresa devoted her time, energy and considerable skills to the MS Society’s advocacy efforts. Teresa has advocated for affordable access to health insurance for all, Medicaid expansion, increased transparency in health insurance and much more. As District Activist Leader, Teresa regularly attends Town Hall meetings; her relationship with elected officials prompted Congressman Joe Barton to invite Teresa to join his Tarrant County Advisory Committee in 2012. Teresa serves on the Society’s Texas Government Relations Committee and State Activism Advisory Committee, as well as leads a Society self-help group and team for Walk MS.

Since 1997, the National MS Society has recognized nearly 550 outstanding volunteers with induction to the Volunteer Hall of Fame.  Learn more about becoming a volunteer with the National MS Society at http://www.nationalmssociety.org/Get-Involved/Volunteer

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide.

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