“My mother was a real mentor for people living with MS, and also to women with any kind of disability. Her message to them was that you ‘don’t have to give up on life just because you’ve been handed some lemons’.”
- Kent Griswold
As a mom to three sons, Jean Griswold worked hard to give her children a great life as they grew up. Kent Griswold fondly remembers his mother’s kind nature and determined spirit, even after she was diagnosed with progressive MS in her thirties. After going to the library to learn everything she could about her diagnosis, Jean found new ways to adapt to the changes happening to her body … it wasn’t always easy for her though.
“I remember one time sitting with my father and watching my mother walk across the porch outside,” says Kent. “She had made a walker out of an old TV cart on wheels, but it caught, and she suddenly fell down. There were many bad falls like this throughout the years.”
At the age of 51, Jean lost out on a great job when her potential employer learned about her diagnosis. She decided to hire herself instead and created her own caregiving business as a way to give back to her community. She knew how important it is for people with disabilities, and the elderly, to have regular in-home care like she had been receiving from her husband. Her new business, Griswold Home Care, was a great success and still exists today. She proudly stayed at its helm until the age of 79, despite the challenges her MS presented.
During her lifetime, Jean was deeply involved with the MS Society. She contributed time to her local chapter and belonged to an MS support group. As her disease progressed and physical movement became more difficult, she found new ways to give back, including adding the Society as a beneficiary in her estate plans and being a cheerleader when Kent and his brothers Scott and Kurt, participated in the City to Shore Ride for MS.
Kent will never forget his mom at the finish line of this challenging bike ride, holding up a sign that said: “YEA, YOU MADE IT.”
Jean’s dedication led to her receiving a leadership award from the National MS Society. Kent travelled to accept the award on her behalf. He also stepped in to volunteer in Jean’s place, attending annual meetings and leadership conferences when his mother was unable to.
“While volunteering with the Society, I really got to appreciate the good work they were doing as an organization, and how professionally everything is run,” says Kent.
Kent knew that supporting the Pathways to Wellness in MS program would be a fitting tribute to his mother. “Prevention, wellness, education, and spirituality [surrounding MS] was so important to both my parents,” says Kent. “I thought this would be a very appropriate place to invest the funds.”
Jean’s contributions during her lifetime, and the legacy she left behind, are helping to create a positive future for those living with MS. It is because of devoted and optimistic people like her, that we will achieve our vision of a world free of MS.
Find out more about the Pathways to Wellness program. To learn more about how you can join Jean in leaving a legacy of impact by including the Society in your estate plans, contact Kathy Newsome at email@example.com or 312-423-1146.