Tom Holtackers first volunteered with the National MS Society in 1979 — one year before he was diagnosed with MS. After receiving the news, he experienced pain, disappointment and fear. But over time, Holtackers transitioned from victim, to survivor, to conqueror. In the process, he embarked on a lifelong mission devoted to achieving a world free of MS.
Holtackers’ 37-year career as a physical therapist gives him a unique perspective on living, working and thriving with MS; and he is dedicated to sharing his knowledge. His involvement with the society spans more than three decades. He is an active volunteer with the Minnesota Chapter — at programs and events and on countless boards and committees, including more than 20 years on the chapter’s Board of Trustees.
Nationally, Holtackers served on the Programs Advisory Council, including a term as Chair, and was a member of the Assisted Living Task Force. He also led national self-help group leader training and presented at a variety of conferences.
In 2008, Holtackers spearheaded one-of-a-kind fitness programs designed to mobilize and empower others with MS to live well — mentally and physically. The MS Fitness Team and Club launched in three locations, making exercise easy and accessible for hundreds of people throughout the area.
A 25-year Walk MS veteran, Holtackers is also an active fundraiser and athlete. He’s currently training for his ninth 50-mile Challenge Walk MS event. And as a motivational speaker and published author, Holtackers inspires people wherever he goes. He shares his personal story at countless seminars and in his 2007 memoir It Takes Courage: Coping with a Chronic Illness. He writes: "As I told it over and over, I came to realize I was living my life through my story, and I had become a victim of it. When I stopped living my story, I became a survivor! "