Anxious to help his child, Bill immersed himself in research about the disease. He and his family were living in Minnesota at the time, and he got involved in his local National MS Society chapter. After he moved to Philadelphia, Bill continued his involvement in the local chapter, and also joined the national board.
Meanwhile, Bill Jr. began taking MS medications. “He’s been very fortunate,” Bill says. “His drug therapy has worked extremely well. He has had some episodes, but they’ve decreased in frequency over the years.”
After a decade and a half of watching his son live—and thrive—with MS, Bill has concluded there are two key factors that not only aid people with MS, but also their loved ones. “The first is the services that help people with MS have a better quality of life. The second is research to hopefully cure the disease or find a way it can be reversed,” he says.
“We at the Society use the motto of stop, restore, end. And that’s really what it is—being able to stop the disease from progressing, doing research on things like myelin repair to restore function, and ending this disease once and for all.”
Bill believes the best way to accomplish this is through donations to support the comprehensive work of the Society, including research initiatives like the Society’s NOW Campaign. For the last five years, he’s been the chair of the NOW Campaign Cabinet— a group of volunteer leaders committed to raising funds and sharing their enthusiasm for MS research.
“Everyone in the Cabinet is impacted by the disease, and we’re motivated to help find a cure,” he says. “We do a lot of meeting with individual donors, and have found that the biggest issue in fighting the disease is communicating about it. When we make the effort to reach out and touch people, we often find that they have an uncle, an aunt, a sibling, a friend—somebody they’re close to who’s living with MS. And that brings them into the battle, so to speak. It’s amazing how many people are affected by MS.”
Bill Jr. is also involved in MS fundraising, as a Walk MS team sponsor and organizer. Bill shares his son’s story with potential donors, and points out that Bill Jr. owes much of his quality of life to advances in MS research.
“Over the last five to 10 years, the rapid pace of research breakthroughs has been phenomenal, particularly with stem cell research and myelin repair,” he says. “I urge people to become part of the solution by donating to further our momentum. I’ve found that most people, particularly those who have been affected by MS, step up when they know there’s hope for a better future.”
Bill also emphasizes the bottom line when it comes to research. “I tell them that the Society’s investment in research has jumped from $20 million a year to now over $50 million a year. People get motivated by that, and they want to be a part of that solution.”