Just as multiple sclerosis is different for every person, the challenges of living with MS are equally diverse and complex. It's important that people affected by MS can rely on the National Multiple Sclerosis Society as a supportive partner in navigating these challenges. Jim Skinner, former CEO of McDonald's Corporation, has given a transformational gift of $3 million to the Society's MS Navigator® program to ensure people with Ms have what they need to live their best lives.
The MS Navigator program is a nationwide network of trusted Society professionals that help people with MS navigate the complex challenges they face daily.
When Jim's wife, Kathleen, was diagnosed with MS in 2009, he recalls the diagnosis as "not being that scary" because the family had inroads to top neurologists. "There were no 'aha' moments regarding Kathleen's MS. You know what you know today, but you may be surprised tomorrow," Jim continues. "That's why I'm willing to support the Navigator program. Because I know there are so many people who don't have access to support that we have."
People like Jackie, who—by the time she contacted an MS Navigator—had lost her Medicaid benefits, home-care services, and even her electricity. Jackie was homebound, unable to get to the grocery store or medical appointments. In addition, she couldn't replace her power chair battery and she did not have a ramp to get in or out of her home. The last few years had been so rough financially that she often had to decide between food or paying the energy bill. She was struggling to take care of these issues mostly on her own.
Upon understanding Jackie's situation, the MS Navigator immediately requested a wellness check from the local police department and got her power turned back on. The Navigator got Medicaid benefits reinstated to ensure Jackie had appropriate care, helped her apply for a home delivery food service, and connected Jackie to community organizations who built her a ramp so she can get in and out of her home safely.
Jackie attributes her survival of this harrowing time to the generosity of several "angels" including her next-door neighbor who encouraged her to call the Society, and her MS Navigator who she says turned her life around. Jackie says, "I had fallen into a hole and I wasn't sure I was going to get out of it. When I called the National MS Society, it changed my life. I felt hope again."
Jim and Kathleen Skinner understand the value of expert health care and support, as well as knowing about treatment options and where to find resources. Now, through their contribution, Jim and Kathleen are supporting this access for families affected by MS across the country. Jim hopes the gift will inspire others to give at a high level, saying "don't wait for them to ask. You can make an enormous difference and impact people's lives with your support."
Transformational gifts like Jim and Kathleen Skinner's change the lives of people with MS, like Jackie, every day. Their gift, and yours, will help realize the Society's vision for widespread impact on the lives of every person affected by MS—no matter where they are, no matter the problems they face.