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The NLC is people.

THE NLC IS PEOPLE

"Teaching has been my dream since I was a little girl," said Eva Lincoln of Columbus, Ohio, the 1990 MS Achievement Award winner. "I was not going to let MS stop me from doing what I love the most."

Eva, who is now 52, was diagnosed with MS some 22 years ago. Her symptoms gradually increased and by 1979, she was using a wheelchair. Eva's marriage ended soon after, her husband unable to cope with her worsening disabilities. A severe exacerbation a few years later left her paralyzed from the neck down, and Eva now uses a chin control to guide her wheelchair. Despite these setbacks, Eva has continued to teach. In fact, she has hardly missed a day of classes in 31 years.

In January 1983, Eva met Norman Lincoln at a cousin's party. By November they were married. "When I met Eva she was already in a wheelchair," Norm recalls. "But I had known a few people with disabilities before and I knew a bit about how MS worked. I saw how Eva's heart and mind were still going a mile a minute."

Norm took an early retirement from his job with the Parks Department in Columbus to devote more time to caring for Eva. Some days are difficult, he is quick to admit. "I've learned not to expect to do things as quickly and easily as before. But we have not stopped doing things. Eva and I never miss a game of Buckeye football at her alma mater, Ohio State. We are avid moviegoers and we love to travel. We honeymooned on a Caribbean cruise, have visited Hawaii and are soon off to Europe. All it takes is planning ahead."

"I may just be stubborn," Eva says, "but the word can't is not in my vocabulary. And I try to instill that positive attitude in my first-grade students."

Eva's courageous and hopeful story was just one of many that emerged at the National Leadership Conference (NLC) held in Minneapolis this past June, a conference that pays tribute to the myriad of individuals who help propel us toward our goal. Representatives of each of the Society's pockets of strength--volunteers, staff, researchers, people with MS and their families--gathered at the NLC to be honored, to exchange information and to plan for a better future."

John Shantz was there. He was not up on a platform receiving accolades, but his quiet fortitude is also part of our tapestry of accomplishment.

A New York City resident, John, a father of three, was diagnosed in 1979 at age 45. He soon retired from his job as a banking and investments executive because of his company's "wheelchair-unfriendly" offices.

Encouraged by his neurologist and unwilling to let MS limit his life, John decided to get involved in his own therapy. It was a lucky day for the Society, because John became an active, committed volunteer.

"People have their own variety of MS, so what works for one may not help another. I think the best results come when people find out as much as possible about their own MS--whether it's how to treat a particular symptom or which mobility aid to use--and to put that knowledge to work for themselves."

That's why John is currently developing a new source of information: a newsletter, to be called "Cope," which is designed to link chapter support groups with the Society and each other.

Nine-year-old Adam Rosen was also there. He doesn't have MS, but he read enough books to raise $8,220--and to become the country's top READaTHON[SM] fund raiser.

"A friend of my father has MS. I'm glad that I can do something to help," said the fourth-grade student from Short Hills, New Jersey. "It's not hard to get involved in the Society and to do things that might make someone else's life much better."

Bernie Krzycki, who came to the conference as a volunteer from the Inland Northwest Chapter, doesn't have MS either. But her husband does and so does her daughter. "When she started to develop symptoms at the age of 39, I really needed courage.

"When my husband was first diagnosed in 1975, we had to drive over 150 miles to a neurologist. There were absolutely no services closer to our Walla Walla, Washington home." Bernie decided something had to be done. She placed an ad in the local newspaper asking people who had MS in the area to contact her. She organized, and still oversees, a community-based network of services and also runs a phone line out of her home which provides 24-hour-a-day information, support, referral--and the courage she had to find for herself--to people with MS. This, in addition to working as a beautician and caring for her husband.

Bernie, like Adam, was one of the cadre of participants of the NLC being recognized for outstanding contributions to the MS cause. At least 100 staff, volunteers and corporations received awards--practical and symbolic recognition of the 325 people who attended as well as the thousands of others who help us fulfill our aims.

Each and every one, like the conference itself, is worth a story, and each story gives us the gift of hope.

The next National Leadership Conference will be held in Baltimore in 1992.
COPYRIGHT 1990 National Multiple Sclerosis Society
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Title Annotation:National Leadership Conference awards
Publication:Inside MS
Date:Jun 22, 1990
Words:880
Previous Article:Dare to date.
Next Article:National Multiple Sclerosis Society 1989 Annual Report.
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