Show Your Support on this National Day of Service

Monday, January 16th is observed as a national holiday in honor of a great leader and activist, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In addition to being a federal holiday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is recognized as a national day of service, empowering citizens to give back to their communities and help bring change in a nation so profoundly influenced by the courageous acts of Dr. King.

This day of service encourages our nation to have a “day on, not a day off” and support causes they feel a connection to. This is why MSAA encourages everyone to take part and offer a helping hand to those within the MS community.

There are many ways to give back and help improve lives in the MS community. Here are a few suggestions to help you get started:

  1. Donate your time by creating a fundraising event to benefit MSAA. This could be anything from a bake sale to a bowling tournament!
  2. Participate in Swim for MS – get creative and make your own unique swim challenge!
  3. Make a purchase from a company that supports charitable causes.
  4. Make a monetary contribution.
  5. Love using social media? Become a member of our Street Squad and help spread the word about MSAA!
  6. Perform a random act of kindness for someone in your community.

The hectic holiday season can certainly bring on a lot of stress. Allow this day of service to help you reflect on what you’re grateful for, and how you’d like to assist your community more in the New Year. We thank you for your continued dedication to our mission and hope you enjoy your volunteer work, whatever it may be!

We would love to hear how you are spending your Monday. Let us know what activities and service you are participating in either on our blog or on our Facebook page.

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MS Clinical Trials Made Easy with MSAA and Antidote

MSAA is pleased to announce that through a partnership with Antidote, a digital health company, we are now offering a clinical trial search tool on our website that will make learning about and connecting with MS clinical trials easier than ever.

While we remain dedicated to improving lives in the MS community through vital services and support, MSAA recognizes the value of having access to clinical trial information, providing important answers to researchers. This is why we encourage you to try Antidote’s clinical trial search tool.

Although some may be familiar with the purpose of clinical trials, others may not know or understand the benefits of these studies. Clinical trials are scientific studies that test the safety and effectiveness of new treatments for diseases, including MS. They often use patient participants; are conducted by universities, MS clinics, and neurologists; and must follow FDA-approved protocol so that all treatment is provided and all data is collected uniformly. No drug can be approved by the FDA until there is clinical trial proof of their safety and effectiveness.

The major advances in the treatment of MS in the last 15-20 years have only been because of data provided through clinical trials, which is why these studies remain so significant for MS research.

You can start searching for clinical trials for you or your loved one right now on our website. Click here to begin.

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Why Just at New Year’s?

Last week people all around the world celebrated and rang in the New Year; 2017 felt like it came so quickly and of course with it came the routine creation of resolutions and goals for the start of the new year. It’s tradition, right? To make New Year’s resolutions and try to stick with them until at least… the end of January? Lol.

I heard something on the radio recently about resolutions – the question as to why people wait until January 1st to make them and essentially put their goals and hopes of change on hold until this significant date. Sure, it does make sense to wait until the start of a fresh year to initiate change; the New Year has always symbolized new beginnings and a clean slate to start anew. But just imagine if you were to start your own tradition of making resolutions and promises of change in the middle, or anytime of the year for that matter – whenever it is that the idea first pops into your head? You’re under no obligation to delay or put your life on hold because of past traditions and habits. If you’re one who likes to wait and mark these resolutions in the New Year then that’s great! But there’s no reason if you want to make a change now, why you’d have to postpone it. I mean there is something to be said for traditions, it’s nice to have customs and practices that are familiar and safe and comforting, but it’s also ok to spark a new practice within your life. Though the world and life in general can have their own very strong influences and effects in your day to day, you still have power to make decisions that impact your own life too, so that means you can make choices that suit your best interest, not just at New Year’s but all year round.

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Polar Plunge 2017

On January 1st, we had the honor of attending and being the beneficiary of the 2017 Atlantic City Polar Bear Plunge, hosted by the Atlantic City Polar Bear Club. It was a beautiful, sunny day and hundreds of participants arrived at the Jersey Shore on Sunday morning, eager to plunge into the icy waters to support MSAA and ring in the new year!

As local South Jersey radio station, 100.7 WZXL and Mayor of Atlantic City, Don Guardian began the countdown to the plunge, we felt fortunate to have a large group of supporters spending their New Year’s Day giving back to the MS community. Seeing all the creative plunge-themed costumes and cute animals in decorative outfits was a plus, too!

MSAA would like to extend our thanks to the Atlantic City Polar Bear Club, Resorts Casino Hotel, 100.7 WZXL, and Dab Tech LLC for all of their hard work. Without their dedication, the plunge would not have been possible! We would also like to thank Ventnor No. 7311, Starbucks of Atlantic City and Sam’s Club of Pleasantville for their lovely donations of snacks and coffee for participants. Each organization went above and beyond to ensure everyone had a fun day!

While MSAA staff did not brave the freezing waters on New Year’s Day, we certainly appreciate all of those who did. We hope the chilly water wasn’t too intense, and that you’ll continue to join us next year in Atlantic City. Thank you and Happy New Year!

See more fun pictures of the Atlantic City Polar Bear Plunge on our Facebook page!

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Happy New Year

From all of us here at MSAA, we are thankful for your continued support throughout this past year.

We wish you and your families a safe and happy New Year!

Please note that MSAA offices will be closed on Monday, January 2nd and will reopen on Tuesday, January 3rd.

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Tips to Fight Those Winter Blues

After the excitement of the holidays wind down, the remaining winter months can often seem very long and keep many indoors and away from social activities. To help prevent the winter doldrums, we invite you to check out the following strategies for ideas on how to stay active and engaged in the comfort of your home:

  • Lend your voice. As you may know, MSAA launched its first online MS peer forum this summer titled, My MSAA Community. With more than 1,400 members to date, this safe and supportive community offers tremendous resources and personal insights into managing the day-to-day challenges of MS. Among the most frequently discussed topics include tips on cognition, handling family relationships, symptom management strategies, and much more.
  • Find some happiness. What makes you happy and inspires you? Is it a craft, hobby, or artist expression? Perhaps learning about mindfulness stress reduction, yoga, or aquatic exercise can help improve your physical and emotional outlook on life. MSAA offers an extensive Overall Wellness section on our website at mymsaa.org, providing useful information, resources, informative videos, helpful tip sheets, and more.
  • Take a journey with Christine. Just added to the “Personal Stories” section of MSAA’s Lending Library, Walk of Hope: One Woman’s Journey with Multiple Sclerosis is a book written by Christine Ganger. In this writing, she describes some very raw and personal moments in her life, while also revealing how hope can make the mind and heart overcome the anguish one feels when experiencing similar physical disabilities.
  • Plan your own journey. Now is a perfect time to think warm thoughts and plan ahead for any possible spring or early-summer travels! The Lending Library includes a section on “Accessibility,” and features titles such as: 101 Accessible Vacations, Barrier-Free Travel, and There is Room at the Inn.
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Happy Holidays

From everyone here at MSAA, we wish you and your families a Happy Holiday!

Please note that MSAA will be closed on Friday, December 23rd and Monday, December 26th.  We will be back in the office on Tuesday, December 27th.

Enjoy your holiday!

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Eggnog French Toast

MS Conversations Recipe of the MonthEggnog French Toast makes for the perfect holiday breakfast.  Not only does it taste fantastic but, just like other French Toast recipes, it is easy to make. It only requires 5 ingredients! Simple and easy recipes are just what I like making during a busy holiday season!

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield: About 12 slices

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups eggnog
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp rum extract
  • 12 slices Texas toast (or other white bread like challah or french bread)

Directions

  1. Preheat an electric griddle to 350 degrees.
  2. In a mixing bowl whisk together eggnog, eggs, nutmeg and rum extract until very well blended.
  3. Pour mixture into an 11 by 7-inch baking dish and dip bread into mixture, then rotate and coat opposite side.
  4. Transfer to buttered griddle and cook until bottom is golden brown then flip and cook opposite side until golden.
  5. Serve warm with syrup, butter  and whipped cream.

 

“We hope you enjoy our Recipe of the Month selections on MS Conversations. Just remember: these entries may not necessarily be a part of an MS-specific diet; these are simply recipes compiled from MSAA staff either from their own family recipe collection or based on recipes we think our audience would enjoy. As always, make sure to consult your doctor about any food or nutrition questions as they relate to your MS.”

 

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A Little Bit of Light

It was only a sunny smile,

and little it cost in the giving,

But like morning light it scattered,

the night and made the day worth living.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald is the author of my all-time favorite book and this poem that, though short, reminds me the important role that light can play. Light is not only the opposite of darkness and necessary for many of the things we routinely do, but it’s also a great symbol. This time of year we routinely hear words such as peace, joy, good will (yes I know that’s two words) and my favorite of all – Hope. Light reminds me of the hope that we can have and sometimes have to fight for. It’s not easy at times with all that the world throws at us to hold onto hope and it can be difficult to get back when it seems it’s gone. But it’s also one of the things at this time of year we think on as one year prepares to give way to another. When we start to wonder what might be.

There is this amazing festival in Thailand (northern Thailand to be more exact), called Yi Peng, where people set afloat thousands of paper sky lanterns or Khom loi and fill the night air. This festival has been adopted and is celebrated around the world including here in the US. Cities and communities around the country hold lantern festivals during the year, giving participants opportunities to not only come together to partake in and watch something breathtakingly spectacular, but also to reflect. Many people assign to their lantern some significance or importance. Maybe your lantern could symbolize turning over a new leaf or good wishes for starting down a new path. It could also stand for letting go of something you’d been holding on to, making peace with something or someone you’ve had a hard time with. Or it could symbolize your hope for yourself and those around you. Light, as Fitzgerald puts it, has the power to scatter the night and while he is specifically talking about the light a smile can bring, I’d add in that hope in it’s many forms brings forth a powerful light as well. This December, as 2016 begins to wind down, take some time to yourself to find where you can relight your hope and scatter the darkness. Maybe make today a little brighter.

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If you are interested in seeing first hand one of the incredible lantern festivals and, like myself, cannot go to Thailand check out The Lantern Fest.

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There’s No Place Like Home…?

So the holiday season is here and for some of us that means a lot of extra time spent with family. Now for many people this is a welcome and joyous gathering; spending time with loved ones and those you may not see all year round is longed for and appreciated. For others, being with family may be a bit more stressful, so one’s strength and will can find that it’s tested more so this time of year. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that all family occasions and activities are taxing, they can be very pleasant at times, but there are those moments where we find ourselves maybe wishing we were at Ebenezer Scrooge’s house for Christmas dinner (the Ebbie we see before his change of heart, lol).

I think most of us can relate to those relatives who can bring out the worry, stress and anxiety in us—and for whom we do our best to place a smile on our face and grin and bear their remarks and actions because they come from a place of concern. I know some say that family only wants the best for us, but do they have to work so HARD at it? Tough questions, unrealistic expectations and lingering comments can be very trying to endure, especially for those coping with their own changes or challenges and expectations. No one’s arguing the fact that we do ultimately want to treasure and appreciate the moments we have with family, because we all know that special moments can be fleeting and life can be very unpredictable when it wants to be. But why do some of these moments have to be so hard sometimes? Why can’t we get through a meal or activity without that moment of discomfort because someone asks an unwelcome personal question or comments on something they don’t know anything about?

Again, I’m not saying that all family get-togethers and events bring about these types of feelings; I’m merely trying to validate that these moments do occur for some and they are not without frustration or stress. The question is; how do you approach these more interesting of family encounters, especially around the holidays? What would Ebenezer do? (The changed Ebbie at the end of the tale, that is).

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