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


Simsbury Woman Named To Receive New Volunteer Award

October 20, 2011

SIMSBURY, Conn. – Simsbury resident Shannon O’Donnell, 35, a longtime supporter of the National MS Society, has been named the first-ever recipient of the Maureen Jessen Volunteer Award. O’Donnell, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when she was 24 years old, has since gone on to raise tens of thousands of dollars to support ongoing scientific research. She has volunteered hundreds of hours to help the Connecticut Chapter keep moving forward in the fight against the disease.

The newly established award is named after another Simsbury resident, Maureen Jessen, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2001. Jessen, also a longtime supporter of the society, began serving on the Greater Hartford Women Against MS Luncheon committee 10 years ago. A year after joining the committee, she volunteered to serve as committee chair and has ever since. Her volunteer work also includes coordinating a team for the chapter’s annual Walk MS event each April, working at the Joyce D. and Andrew J. Mandell MS Center, located on the campus of Mount Sinai Rehabilitation Hospital in Hartford, and much more.

“Shannon is embodies the meaning of volunteerism,” said Jessen, who received in 2004 the chapter’s Volunteer of the Year award. “Shannon is involved in many MS events, including walk, bike, motorcycle, Women Against MS Luncheons and many other boutique events. She also volunteers numerous hours each year to helping out at the chapter’s Hartford office. Shannon actively engaged in her own fight against this disease, and she has recruited many others, who have joined the ranks to help create a world free of multiple sclerosis.”

darren and shannon

Simsbury resident Shannon O’Donnell and WTNH News 8 anchor Darren Kramer cut the ribbon at the 2011 Bike MS event held at Griffin Center in Windsor in early June. O’Donnell, who has raised thousands of dollars and volunteered hundreds of hours with the National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter, will receive the first-ever Maureen Jessen Volunteer Award at the 2011 Greater Hartford NBC Connecticut Women Against MS Luncheon on Friday, Nov. 4. O’Donnell, now 35, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a potentially debilitating disease, when she was just 24 years old. For more information on MS or the upcoming WAMS luncheon, and click the WAMS button.

In 2008, O’Donnell teamed up with the National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter to serve as an MS spokesperson, helping to raise awareness and promote chapter events, such as Walk MS and its Women Against MS Luncheon. O’Donnell’s story of living life in the face of MS has been covered by news anchor and reporter Darren Kramer, WTNH News 8. She has also been featured on NBC Connecticut and Clear Channel Radio Connecticut’s The River 105.9.

The Maureen Jessen Volunteer Award will be presented Friday, Nov. 4, at the Greater Hartford NBC Connecticut Women Against MS Luncheon, which will be held in Hartford. This year’s luncheon features for the first time, boutique shopping in which local merchants and boutiques will display for purchase clothing, jewelry and more. The event will also feature keynote speaker Maureen Manley, former U.S. Cycling Team national champion. While at the top of her sport, Manley was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis just after a crash in the Tour de France in 1990. Lisa Carberg, evening news anchor with NBC Connecticut, will serve for a second year as mistress of ceremonies.

The Women Against MS Luncheon is an annual event in which women come together to demonstrate their support to a friend or family member affected by multiple sclerosis. According to statistics, three times as many women are diagnosed with multiple sclerosis as are men. As a result, women across the nation now come together annually, state by state and chapter by chapter, to learn, through inspirational personal accounts, about the devastating effects and the latest advancements in care. These same women, dedicated to joining the fight against MS, raise critically-needed funds to ensure continued scientific research to find a cure. The dynamic groups of women are known as Women Against MS or WAMS.

The Greater Hartford NBC Connecticut Women Against MS Luncheon will be held Friday, Nov. 4, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Marriott Hartford Downtown in Hartford. Boutique shopping begins at 10 a.m. and the lunch and program will begin at noon. Media partners include NBC Connecticut and The River 105.9.

To register or become a table captain, please return to our homepage and click on the WAMS button. For more information on the WAMS luncheon, please contact Elizabeth Sulick at 860-913-2550, ext. 52524,



About the Connecticut Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society

The Connecticut Chapter strives to provide knowledge and assistance to help people with MS and their families maintain the highest possible quality of life. These goals are achieved through vital national and local programs.

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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