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The Southern California & Nevada Chapter works to improve the quality of life for people affected by MS in Southern and Central California and Nevada and raise funds for critical MS research. Join the movement toward a world free of MS.

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Twists of Fate

June 10, 2013

Life often hinges on twists of fate. Only a few years ago, I was a full-time elementary school teacher and my husband, Stephen, had a management position at a local Napa Valley winery. Then, I was diagnosed with MS, and other significant events happened, as well. The economic downturn caused my teaching job to be eliminated and Stephen was informed by his new boss that his services at the winery would no longer be required. Things seemed so bleak that we agreed we had nowhere to go but up.

While I was attempting to face and accept my new life with MS, I sought out and found support from family, friends and various MS programs. I benefited from webinars, teleconferences and counseling sessions, to name a few. I was amazed at the depth of help and services available to individuals living with MS and their support partners. The more I benefited from these valuable programs, the more passionate I became about wanting to figure out a way to give something back so others could benefit, as well.

These feelings manifested themselves after attending an MS support group at UCSF. The topic for discussion that evening was gratitude. Later that evening, while reflecting on gratitude and our recent life-changing events, a photo on our family room wall took on new meaning. The photo was taken in the early part of the 20th century and was of Stephen’s maternal grandfather in a playful boxing stance. The idea emerged that we could, as a couple, join our mutual passions - Stephen’s for the California wine industry and mine for wanting to give something back to the MS world. Counter Punch Wines was born. That photo on the wall would become the art for our future wine label.

Our goals for Counter Punch Wines are to create great wines that are produced from California’s best grape growing regions and to donate a portion of the profits back to organizations that help “counter punch” the effects of MS. Our goal is to increase production and distribution so we can give more back to help people with MS live more enriching lives.

Sharing a venture that we are passionate about and that somehow feels larger than us has given us another avenue in which to share our lives with one another. Let’s face it; MS is a bear of a disease that alters one’s life dramatically. The blessing is that as I developed MS, mine and Stephen’s relationship became stronger. We have been married close to 30 years and during life’s challenging times, once again, we turned toward instead of away from each other.

I believe that life does hinge on simple twists of fate. Yes, I was diagnosed with MS and we both lost our jobs within a relatively short period of time. However, since we were having such a difficult time, the picture of Stephen’s grandparents took on a new significance and sparked the idea of how we could participate in a positive way to help improve the lives of people living with such a challenging disease. Both Stephen and I are thankful for the path which has been laid before us and our choice to embark down that path together. We relish the chance to produce some fabulous Counter Punch Wines and donate funds to help others benefit from the many programs available from the National MS Society.

To learn more about our Counter Punch venture and/or to purchase wine, please visit our website at www.counterpunchwines.com, visit us on Facebook, or call 707-815-7267.

-- Julie Hare

About the Southern California & Nevada Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society

The Southern California & Nevada Chapter of the National MS Society provides comprehensive programs and advocacy to assist and empower the more than 20,000 individuals residing in Southern and Central California and Nevada who are affected by MS annually. The Southern California & Nevada Chapter is also a driving force of research for the prevention, treatment and cure of MS and contributes funds to support 350 National MS Society research projects worldwide. The Chapter has offices in Bakersfield, Fresno, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Ontario, Reno and Santa Barbara.

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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