Steering Committee

For walkers, the weekend of the MS Challenge Walk must seem a magical occurrence. Hundreds of pedestrians descend on Cape Cod to find it fully furnished with tents, food, massage therapists, medical crew, route signs, musicians, speakers, and more. Where does everything come from? Surely Aileen doesn't do it all herself?

Although I suspect Aileen likely does have some superhuman reserve that would allow her to accomplish all these feats and more, she is in fact aided not only by fellow NMSS employees, but by the many volunteers who constitute the MS Challenge Walk Steering Committee. This committee consists primarily of walkers and crew members who have participated in past MS Challenge Walks and have something to contribute to future events behind the scenes.

Some of the committee's responsibilities include calling past walkers to encourage them to sign up for this year's walk; greeting new walkers and helping them start, join, and build teams; brainstorming fundraising ideas and incentives, including prizes for our top walkers; and selecting speakers and performances for the Friday and Saturday night programs.

The Steering Committee's roster changes regularly, as do the responsibilities of its specific members as they choose to participate in one areas or another. Currently, its membership looks something like this:

Aileen Curran Aileen is the Director of Development for the Greater New England Chapter of the National MS Society responsible for the 2013 Challenge Walk. She has interned with the National MS Society at the Greater Delaware Valley Chapter with Program Events and is looking forward to working closely with the Steering Committee and Challenge Walk Teams to make this year's MS Challenge Walk a memorable one!
Amy Scannell Amy has been participating in the MS Challenge Walk since 2002, in honor of her father, who was diagnosed the year before.  In 2007, she joined the Steering Committee. She feels blessed to be accompanied by such an amazing group of people in this fight against MS.  Amy lives in Lowell, Massachusetts with her husband, son, and daughter.
Ann Scannell Ann became involved with the National MS Society after her husband John was diagnosed with MS in 2001.  She feels fortunate to have found MS Challenge Walk and has walked every year since it began in 2002.  She is team captain for Cocktails for a Cure, and the team is committed to walking until a cure is found!
Cristin Carroll Cristin started participating in MS walks after her diagnosis in 2005. Her first Challenge Walk was in 2010, and a year later, she became captain of team Socks on Fi~yah, a team that bring spirit and laughter to the trails to remind everyone: you get what life gives you, and all you can do is keep smiling and move forward and raise money for awareness and ultimately a cure.
Danielle Paonessa Danielle Paonessa is a development coordinator with the National MS Society. She works on four MS Walks around the Boston area and helps with the Challenge Walk. Danielle has a degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and became interested in working in the non-profit industry after interning with Make-A-Wish her senior year of college.
Jack Enright Jack is from West Roxbury, MA, and has walked on every Challenge Walk since the Cape Cod event began in 2002. He is on both the Challenge Walk Steering Committee and the Board of Trustees.
Jennifer Yates Jen has walked in every MS Challenge Walk for the Greater New England Chapter. Though she didn't have a direct connection to MS when she started walking in 2002, she now is involved for her many amazing friends who are touched by MS and walks with Team Brian. Jen is a neuroscientist at Ohio Wesleyan University who is also on the planning committee for the MSWalk in Columbus, Ohio, and the Government Relations and MS Awareness Month committees of the Ohio Buckeye Chapter.
Jill Lagace Jill lives in East Taunton with her husband and a very annoying cat. She was diagnosed with MS in 1998 when she was 24. She has been participating in the Challenge Walk since the beginning as a crew member and can also be found at many other fundraising events.
John Steinmann John has been walking the MS Challenge Walk with his sister Kathy and teammates since 2006. His first and second years were with the Scrap Dogs, after which John and Kathy branched out on their own to form The Sole Train. Since then, John, Kathy, and John's daughter Taylor have spearheaded the efforts of the Sole Train and each year are looking to do more and grow the team. John's father Robert and younger sister Kathy both have MS, and John is committed to walking and fundraising each year until a cure is found.
Kathy Hannon Kathy started with the Challenge Walk in 2002 as a volunteer and then, inspired by the walkers and crew, laced up in 2005 and give it a try herself. She's been walking ever since! Kathy, diagnosed with MS in 2002, formed The Sole Train with her brother John to honor their dad, Bob, who was diagnosed in 1981. Still inspired by all involved with this event and cause, Kathy is committed to finding a cure and helping those affected by this disease.
Lori Espino Lori is the Executive Vice President of Resource Development for the Greater New England Chapter of the National MS Society. She has been with the Society for over 10 years. MS Challenge Walk holds a special place in her heart, and every year, it inspires her to continue her work on behalf of the 19,000 people with MS and their families the chapter supports.
Marisa Bonanno Marisa, a resident of Central Massachusetts, was diagnosed with MS in 2003.  In 2004, she heard about the MS Challenge Walk and decided to try to walk the 50 miles.  Right before the walk, her MS caught up with her and she could not walk that year.  She asked what else she could do and was told about the being a part of the crew.  Marisa fell in love with being a crew member and has spent several years working the Big Top Tent.
Patty Thorpe Diagnosed with MS in 1994, Patty responded the way many do: she refused to discuss it. It took her ten years to realize that silence isn't the answer. She, her friends and family formed the Blister Buddies for their first Challenge Walk in 2004. Patty is now on the Challenge Walk Steering Committee and chairs the PR Subcommittee. In November 2008, she became a member of the Greater NE Chapter's Board of Trustees.
Paula Dwyer After Jodi Dwyer was diagnosed with MS, she asked her mom, Paula, to crew the Challenge Walk. Paula and Jodi ended up together in the Big Top Tent, where Paula has stayed while Jodi's tackled the 50 miles! Together they are part of The Bean Team.
Steve Urquhart Steve, the Steering Committee co-chair and a resident of Franklin, Mass., has walked every mile of MS Challenge Walk since its inception. He started walking to support his brother's fight against MS but now walks for all those who have had MS touch their lives. Steve is especially proud that his daughters have joined him in supporting MS Challenge Walk and this important cause. He urges anyone thinking about walking to join in this life-changing experience!
Sue Carrai Sue has been an MS Challenge Walker since 2003. She began her journey with MS in honor of two good friends who were diagnosed with MS in the early 1980s; since then, the list of people she proudly walks for has grown.  Sue is committed to continue her fundraising efforts for as long as it takes.  She has made lifelong friends at MS Challenge Walk and looks forward to spending one weekend each September with the ladies of Cabin 56! Sue works for UBS Financial Services in Boston and is a professional violinist. She lives in Woburn, MA, with her son, Nathan.
Tara Tonello Tara has been participating in MS Challenge Walk since 2010 in honor of her mother, Susan, who was diagnosed with MS in 2003. Her mom is her greatest inspiration, and this is just one way team Sweaty Already, which consists of Tara, her twin sister Shelley and their respective husbands, gives strength to those with MS and their families each year. Tara lives in Halifax, Massachusetts with her husband, Brian, who has been walking alongside her at MS Challenge Walk since 2010.
Todd Krohne Todd, formerly the Director of Development for the Greater New England Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, is now the the Regional Director of FAS Capital Giving at Harvard University. In addition to reading his blog posts, you can also find Todd on Twitter .
Tom Keough Tom, the Steering Committee co-chair, has been walking as a member of Team Believers since 2009, the year after his younger sister was diagnosed. Inspired year after year by the strength and will of those who fight MS every day, Tom continues to look for new ways to raise awareness about the cause and to build a support system for his sister and all those he has met since taking on this annual 50-mile adventure. Tom now resides in Milford, MA with his wife Alli (who joined Team Believers in 2013) and Wendy, their very spoiled puggle, where he enjoys sampling the latest craft beers, playing cornhole, and finding new ways to procrastinate on training.

The Steering Committee's members work as hard as you do to raise $1,500 and to walk 50 miles, affording them the opportunity to represent the MS Challenge Walk's audience to the National MS Society. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns about the event, they are always happy to listen, whether by email or while walking alongside you on the Cape Cod Rail Trail. We'll see you soon!