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Walk MS Turns Ordinary People Into “Extraordinary Machines”

February 8, 2012

Stamford woman finds inspiration from song in her fight with MS.

STAMFORD, Conn. - Sometimes a stranger has an uncanny ability to understand your feelings better than anyone else. For Stamford native Sara Bromley, singer-songwriter Fiona Apple filled those shoes.

When Apple released her third album “Extraordinary Machine” in 2005, she certainly did not have MS in mind. The first track, which features the same name, addresses Apple’s struggle to feel like herself again after the end of a long-term relationship. Sara Bromley wasn’t going through a breakup at the time, but Fiona Apple’s words seemed to resonate with her deeper than any other song she had heard before.

But I'm good at being uncomfortable, so I can't stop changing all the time

Bromley, who has lived with multiple sclerosis since her diagnosis in 2006, was planning to participate in her first Walk MS. However, after a rough adjustment period, she was secretly hesitant to jump back into the mix of life.

“It took a few years before I even wanted to do anything,” Bromley confesses.

That is when she heard “Extraordinary Machine” on the radio.

“But when I heard that song, I was overcome with such motivation and strength. Every word seemed to be written just for me,” Bromley remembers.

Since that moment, Bromley decided to let go of her inhibitions and walk for MS, and for herself. That day her team became known as “Extraordinary Machine,” and has been ever since.  

Simply walking each year would be considered a small feat in and of itself for Bromley, who lives each day with the chronic pain and fatigue, which stems from her MS, but her participation goes far beyond one day a year.

Along with dedicating her life to the fight against MS, working as a development coordinator in the Norwalk office for the National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter, Bromley has been able to raise nearly $11,000 in donations for her walk team last year alone.


Sara Bromley, Stamford native and captain of the Extraordinary Machine Walk MS fundraising team, poses by the Norwalk harbor outside of the National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter, office in Norwalk. Bromley, a development coordinator for the Connecticut Chapter, was diagnosed with MS in 2006. Last year Team Extraordinary Machine, which steps out at the Stamford Walk MS site, raised nearly $11,000. The 2012 Travelers Walk MS, presented by North American Power, will be held Sunday, April 22, at 12 locations statewide, including Cove Island State Park in Stamford and a new site at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury. For more information or to register please visit

If there was a better way to go, then it would find me

So what is Bromley’s strategy to raise such a large amount of money for the cause? Her advice is very simple.

“Ask anybody and everybody,” she answers. “The worst that they can say is no.”

Bromley credits her own success with her ability to talk about her personal connection to MS, and never being embarrassed to ask for a donation.

“The more people know about your individual connection to the disease, the more people will be willing to help,” she says.

To those trying to step up their fundraising this year, Bromley’s greatest suggestion is to never underestimate the power of small donations.

“Every donation doesn’t have to be $100,” says Bromley. “Ten dollars here and five dollars there is great. It all adds up in the end.”

I still only travel by foot, and by foot it's a slow climb

Although her job will require her to work the event, instead of personally walk with her team in Stamford this year, Bromley finds pleasure in taking a step back once in a while.

“Even though everyone is there to support their own tie to MS, they are supporting me in doing so,” she explains.

Although Sara Bromley has dedicated her life to trying to do good for the world, with previous careers working with senior citizens and teaching children, she is not shy about admitting that she participates in the walks each year because of the happiness that it gives her. As for seeing her team walk each year, Bromley is overwhelmed by their love for her, but also takes pride in the fact that they are just as excited as she is about participating.

Bromley, a graduate of Stamford High School, explains that “so often my family and friends are there to support me in times of need, like when I need a ride to a doctor’s appointment, or am too tired to get out of bed to make dinner, but for this occasion I am not asking for help. I am instead just asking for them to join in something fun and exciting. This is my favorite part of walking each year.”

The 2012 Travelers Walk MS, presented by North American Power, will step out from 12 sites statewide on Sunday, April 22.Lunch will be provided compliments of Subway and Coca-Cola.

“This walk allows me, and countless others living with multiple sclerosis, to see their supporters coming together for a positive reason, instead of the negative that is too often associated with MS,” she states.

 bromley team
 Bromley (center, kneeling) poses with her Extraordinary Machine team at last year's Walk MS in Stamford. Extraordinary Machine will step out once again at Cove Island State Park in Stamford at the 2012 Walk MS, presented by North American Power. For more information or to register, please visit

I promise you, everything will be just fine

More than 6,000 Connecticut residents, like Bromley, currently live with the effects of multiple sclerosis. The cause is unknown and there is currently no cure. Symptoms can include anything from numbness in the limbs, difficulties in vision or speech, stiffness, and in some more severe cases, total paralysis. The progress, severity and symptoms vary from person to person and cannot be predicted.

Bromley, who has been living with MS for close to six years, attributes her positive attitude to her ability to keep going on with her daily life, no matter how hard that may be.

“Getting up everyday and going to work, even if it’s only for an hour or two, is the key,” she explains.

She recognizes that being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis makes the individual feel that they now have to live within the confines of the disease.

However, Bromley wants people to know that after a while, living with MS becomes a new normal.

“You do have to learn how to live again, but things will be ok.”

Just like the song that gives her so much strength states, Bromley “will make the most of it. She’s an extraordinary machine.”

Funds raised at events such as Walk MS ensure ongoing scientific research to find a cure and provide a continuation of vital programs and services offered by the chapter. Community partners include WTNH News 8 and The Fox 95.9.

To register for Walk MS, or to learn more about multiple sclerosis or how to get involved, please visit the Connecticut Chapter website at


Sarah LaRocca, a senior Communications and English double major at University of Connecticut, is currently conducting an internship at the National MS Society, CT Chapter. LaRocca is a Long Island, NY native.

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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