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, President and CEO of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, summed up the 2008 National Conference:
“From the launch of the first-ever Tykeson Fellows Conference on Tuesday evening to the compelling sounds of mother-daughter team Jeannie and Melody Felton singing ‘I'd Walk a Million Miles for You’ at Friday's closing session, this year's conference epitomized the optimistic future ahead for people with MS.
Team captains, corporate leaders, people with MS, chapter and home office trustees, staff at the home office and at chapters, MS fellows, giants in MS research... all gathered together with one united purpose — moving others to join the movement.”
No one moves others more effectively than the hundreds of team captains who make Walk MS and Bike MS events so powerful and so much fun. Balloon garlands in the Society’s signature blue, green, white and orange combined with the brilliant uniforms at the National Team Rally while deserved recognition was heaped on these leaders.
Organizers know from experience that “teams work.” Almost 75% of the funds raised through events are raised by teams. National corporations play a major role — BP, for example, sponsored eight teams last year, bringing in $1.1 million. They are matched in spirit and even in total sums by hundreds of individual teams, sporting names as wild as their bright sports duds (Don’t MS With Us, Old Soles, and Kaycee and the Sunshine Gang, for example).
Three new Corporate Stars — Acorda Therapeutics, developers of the fatigue fighting medication Fampridine; KPMG the tax audit specialists, and Valero Energy Corporation — joined the roster of the Society’s super collaborators. Corporate Stars support the MS movement to the tune of half a million dollars a year or five million dollars over the life of the relationship. The2008 “Shining Star” award went to Giant Food Stores— a chain of family grocery stores with 25,000 associates and millions of customers.
, Chairman of the National MS Society Board of Directors, told the stories of some men in his family who have played a seminal role in making a strong life in the face of the MS. The disease has hounded his family for several generations and although Johnson himself has MS, he focused his attention on the men who have taken on the challenges when the women in their lives developed MS — and who move others to do the same.
Johnson reminded the audience of the derivation of the word “collaborate.” Not surprisingly, it has a Latin root, but the term was a latecomer into English. It arrived as a word primarily meaning “to willingly assist” about the time Jean-Martin Charcot, the great 19thcentury neurologist, was first fully describing and naming multiple sclerosis.
Helping another person survive and thrive despite MS is a work of true collaboration. But, Johnson pointed out, collaboration for an organization goes beyond that. He urged all members of the MS movement to throw off provincial perspectives and think internationally, to work together, and to foster a realistic frame of hope for achieving a world free of MS.
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