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This is why we volunteer

Written by on May 23, 2014 at 12:42 pm

All of us who volunteer or raise money for the National MS Society do so because we usually have a connection with a family member or friend who has MS. My connection is my brother-in-law John.

John Scannell

Mike Kizner (left) finds inspiration in his brother-in-law, John Scannell.

John was nearing fifty years of age when he first noticed changes with his vision and other telltale signs that he knew were out of the ordinary. Thirteen years ago, John was diagnosed with MS, which over the years has developed into secondary-progressive. When flairs do occur, the recovery is usually not complete, so permanent disabilities accumulate. Through the years, John has become more dependent on leg braces, walkers and occasionally wheelchairs. He does not look for sympathy or complain about these daily challenges but instead lives each day with his head held high.

Although John won't be able to run the 100-yard dash, that has not stopped him from keeping his spirits high with the hope that soon we will find a cure that ends MS forever.

Mike has been involved with MS Challenge Walk since 2004. His connection to MS is with his brother-in-law, who was diagnosed in 2000. Mike has been a crew member and Team Lead with the Activity Tent and supports the Falmouth (ME) office, where he coordinates their yearly Plane Pull event. In 2013, Mike will be helping the Lunch Bunch Crew under the watchful eyes of his wife Sharon, who is Crew Leader.

The light of hope

Written by on September 1, 2010 at 11:33 am

The walkers and crew that constitute the MS Challenge Walk are challenged every day to help their spouses, siblings, parents, and children cope with MS. Everyone wants to do something, but not everyone knows what to do.

After Wendy wrote about how to get kids involved, a reader asked for more ideas to give teens who want to contribute to the MS Challenge Walk.

It must've been kismet that, just a few days later, Paige Magratten of Team Paige wrote in to tell us about her daughter:

Colby is 14 and has participated in the walk since she was 6.  The MS Challenge Walk has had a tremendous effect on growing up having a mom with MS.  Thanks to the walk, she associates MS not with fear, but joy and activism.

Every year, Colby helps prepare our letters with stickers, rubber stamping, and addressing.  At the walk itself, she has been giving out chocolate-chip granola bars and stickers with Crew 3 since she was 8.  She has seen the outpouring of love and support for her mom and so many others with MS. And she LOVES the candle lighting ceremony — no matter how tired the team is, she rallies the gang to go on Saturday night.

When her school gave her a poetry assignment, she knew she wanted to write it about the MS Challenge Walk. She gave me a draft to proofread for spelling, and it caught me by such surprise that the tears just started to flow.  When she read the poem in front of the class, her teacher was so taken by it she had Colby read it a second time. I decided to include Colby's poem in our letters this year.  The notes that have come back with the checks are proof that her words don't bring just me to tears.

Team Paige

It takes a family to cure MS.

Paige and Colby have given permission for Colby's poem, "The Light of Hope", to be shared here.

I hold a newly lit candle in my hand,
Hiding it from the wind.
I did not start the light.
I hold a shared flame that started from a single match.
The light spreads from wick to wick,
'Til we raise our candles up,
And the wind turns our light to darkness.

I am reminded of why I am here.
For in moments of true happiness,
I forget.
Everyone around me is here for one reason,
But I am here for another.
To wish that it will never end.

A friend goes up to the podium
To tell her story.
The story I know far too well.
Outside friends shed tears,
While I try to hide my own.
She needed help,
So then I stood next to her and helped her conquer fear.

We are a family of strangers
With a common goal: "hope".
How they do it? I do not know.
I recall a small trail of smoke from a single candle,
That reminds me that it has to end.
I do not know when but that step will be taken.

Thank you, Colby, for reminding us of all the different ways we can contribute toward a world free from MS.

Ken joined the MS Challenge Walk in 2005, more than a decade after his mother was diagnosed. After walking for three years and 150 miles, he switched to the support crew and now rides his bicycle along the trail, providing whatever encouragement (and snacks!) he can to the 600 walkers. He is also an alumnus of the event's steering committee and is this site's webmaster.