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Team MS: making a difference.

Team MS

There's the flutter of anticipation as you gather with your teammates at the starting line, everyone looking sharp in their new team T-shirts. Laughing and sharing stories as you pass the first mile marker. Looking forward to the next rest stop where you can spend a few minutes relaxing under a shady tree. Cheers as you and your teammates cross the finish line--and that unforgettable moment when a person with MS places a medal over your head and thanks you for helping in the fight against MS.

There is a contagious energy that comes from participating on a team in the MS 150 Bike Tour or The MS Walk--and teams have more fun! Team members are motivated to dream bigger and strive harder. Could you organize a team and raise $10,000? $100,000? How about a cool million? Around the country, creative brainstorming, inspiring team captains, and strong corporate support are making TeamMS a fund-raising phenomenon.

On the cover and this page:

The 252 riders on the General Motors MS 150 bike team raised $83,446 in 2001. Also pictured are Team Sunshine and Team Warner at The MS Walk in Los Angeles.

SPINNING GOOD INTENTIONS INTO GOLD

Jean Gibbs first learned about multiple sclerosis at her company's training sessions for The MS Walk. Jean, a machine operator for 28 years at Philip Morris in Richmond, Virginia, agreed to be a captain for her plant's Walk team. She got "swept up" in the team's efforts to double their goal of the previous year. When they accomplished that, she was hooked. As they rallied for the next Walk, Jean was hit with staggering fatigue, and then a numbness that spread from her toes to her knees. This team captain who had volunteered so much of her time for the Society was diagnosed with MS. A month in the hospital kept her out of The MS Walk in 2001, so her teammates wore T-shirts that said "We're Walking for Jean!" Philip Morris employees beat their record again, raising $150,000.

The National MS Society has been the charity of choice of Philip Morris employees for the past 8 years. Corporate management is right behind them, paying for all expenses related to The MS Walk, and double-matching funds raised. They also instituted the effective "Diamond Level Team Concept." Every department has a team captain in charge of appointing 10 subcaptains, who in turn try to recruit 10 walkers.

Forming a team is as easy as 1, 2, 3 ... 4

Any group of 4 or more people can be a team!

Organize friends and family, or get your company involved. When employees join together for a worthy cause, they have a great time--and company spirit gets a big boost. For more information on joining or starting a team, call the National MS Society at 1-800-FIGHT MS, return the enclosed reply card, or visit our Web site at www.nationalmssociety.org.

The MS 150 Bike Tour attracts people who love a challenge--people like Amelia Alder. In 1996, she was one of the 11 bike riders from Enron who pedaled the arduous 2-day route from Houston to Austin. Amelia was sure that Enron's bike team could do a lot better. As a team captain, she worked tirelessly to motivate more riders and muster support from the company. Five years later, the Enron MS 150 Bike Team is the largest in the nation with over 400 riders--who raised a stunning one million dollars this year!

Amelia Alder is justifiably proud of her team's record-breaking achievement though she never loses sight of the real reason to ride. "Research dollars are our only hope to get this disease behind us."

Larry Etzel, an airline pilot from New Jersey, signed up for his first MS 150 Bike Tour just for the fun of it. A neighbor asked, "If I give you a photo of my friend Frank McCarry, who has MS, will you ride for him?" Nine years later, Larry is still riding for Frank, only now they are good friends. In fact, they work together throughout the year, along with Frank's wife, Mary Ann, organizing their MS 150 Bike Tour team. As their team grew, they merged with GlaxoSmithKline to become GSK/Frank and His Friends. Last year, the team included 175 riders and raised $98,000. Riders on this team return year after year to enjoy the group's intense camaraderie, and they stay in touch through a team Web site. And Frank has always been at the finish line to greet the exhausted but exhilarated bike riders.

What is MS?

Every hour, another person hears the wrenching words, "You have MS." An unpredictable disease with no cure, MS often disrupts the lives of women and men in their prime years when they are busy establishing careers and families. Fighting MS has never been more important.

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. Symptoms may be mild, such as numbness in the limbs, or severe--including paralysis or loss of vision--with the onset of symptoms occurring most often between the ages of 20 and 50. There are approximately one third of a million Americans with MS.

The National MS Society recommends that people diagnosed with the most common form of MS consider using one of the three FDA-approved medications: Avonex, Betaseron, or Copaxone. Experts in the management of MS agree that these medications may delay or reduce future disability in many people with MS. Contact the National MS Society for more information.

GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS

When Milgard Windows was looking for a nonprofit organization that all their locations around the country would want to support, the company chose the National MS Society. Wisely, the company appointed a coordinator to keep all the Milgard teams revved up for some healthy Walk competition. Milgard provided red T-shirts for The MS Walk 2001 but it was the Milgard people--over 500 production workers, HR staff, truck drivers, warehouse stockers, sales managers, and machine operators--who put their feet to the pavement, raising $31,000. They had so much fun in Chicago, Denver, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Portland, Tacoma and Marysville, Washington, Sacramento and Simi Valley, California, that national team coordinator John Underwood promises "a sea of red Milgard T-shirts across the nation next year."

Patti Miller organized a team for The MS Walk in Albuquerque right after her sister Angie Harbin was diagnosed in 1999. From the start, Team Angie produced impressive results. Hearing about the success of national corporate TeamMS efforts, Patti wondered if she could nationalize her friends and family team. As a competitor in country-western dance events, Patti has contacts all over the country. She signed up teams in Denver, L.A., and San Jose. Their new name, Because You Can, serves as an umbrella for many events, including The MS Walk, Dance Because You Can, and Golf Because You Can. The team's irrepressible can-do attitude brought in $32,781 in 2001.

BUILDING EXTRAORDINARY PARTNERSHIPS

Enter any Giant Food Stores or Martin's Food Markets in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, or West Virginia and you'll hear about The MS Walk. To get volunteers and pledges for their national Walk team, Giant Food Stores runs in-store messages and radio spots, and puts tagged circulars in local papers. Does it work? The Giant Food Stores Walk Team donated more than $91,000 to the Society this year.

This close partnership has mutual benefits. Giant Food Stores has become one of the Society's important corporate partners. President and CEO Tony Schiano is an active member of the Central Pennsylvania Chapter board. As Tony sees it, "Participating on a corporate team builds `esprit de corps' at Giant Food Stores. Our employees have an opportunity to show that they care about putting an end to a disease that affects their primary customer, women in the prime of their lives."

The National MS Society would like to acknowledge the following companies for their commitment to the 2001 National Team program. These companies promoted TeamMS to their employees and supported corporate teams in at least 4 different cities.

American Management Systems

Giant Food Stores

Macy's

Milgard Windows

NTS Communications

Overnite Transportation

Travelers Insurance

Washington Inventory Services

Your Team Name Here.

Maximize your volunteer efforts by joining a team for The MS Walk or MS 150 Bike Tour. Or organize your own team with friends, family members, or through your company. TeamMS needs generous volunteers, devoted team captains, and corporations that care. Together, we will find a way to end the devastating effects of MS.
COPYRIGHT 2001 National Multiple Sclerosis Society
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:multiple sclerosis advocacy
Publication:Inside MS
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 22, 2001
Words:1424
Previous Article:"Courage". (The Last Word).
Next Article:In this issue.
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