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Raising public awareness of MS.

What is it like to live with MS? As a person with MS, what would you want to public to know about your condition? Why is it important that charitable contributors give to MS?

These questions, posed this summer to a number of MS people across the country with various disabilities, including some who are newly diagnosed, were the genesis of the Society's new public awareness campaign. Strong new print and broadcast public service ads will begin in January 1994. The Society felt it was important to let people with MS know about them in advance -- because they represent a new direction.

"We know that MS remains a great unknown for many people," Mike Dugan, the Society's president, reflected. "We felt we had to capture the reality of what this disease does if we're going to get other people give to us. We knew that people said time and again if they just knew more about MS this would be the key to giving."

Those people are the target for the campaign: potential donors who need a better understanding of what MS is and why they should give their time and money to the Society.

The experiences of people with MS were the inspiration for the campaign. The research team at Wells Rich Greene/BDDP found that the most difficult thing about living with MS is the uncertainty and inability to plan for the future.

One woman in Atlanta talked poignantly about the uncertainty that each day brings for her: "As soon as I open my eyes I begin to test everything to see if it works, my eyes, my hands, and my arms. Finally I try to sit up and if I can do that, then I swing my legs over the bed to see if I can stand. That is how my days starts."

People said they worried about not being able to take care of their families. One mother said her greatest fear was of not being able to hold her child, so one of the ads capture that concern.

"It's a stronger direction than we've ever taken," said long-time board member Ken Olshan, chairman of Wells Rich Greene/BDDP, which did the research and developed the ads. "It's a choice we felt we had to make," he continued, "given the number of compelling causes and diseases. Out research showed that people give to diseases they consider devasting, particularly those that are fatal. Living with MS may be more devastating, both emotionally and physically, because of the uncertainty caused by its unpredictability."

The agency and the Society think tha this unpredictability and uncertainty will firmly entrench MS in the public's mind. "The Society has come long way in advancing the cause of all disabled people," Mr. Olshan reflected. "We fell this campaign tells the reality of living with MS without portraying people as victims of the disease. We fell this will have a great impact on giving to MS."
COPYRIGHT 1993 National Multiple Sclerosis Society
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Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:multiple sclerosis
Publication:Inside MS
Date:Sep 22, 1993
Previous Article:Betaseron update.
Next Article:Childhood MS.

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