MSAA’s Mission with the Mouse

By Gina Ross Murdoch, MSAA President & CEO

Recently, MSAA embarked on a new initiative of endurance events including the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series, Tough Mudder Race Series, and the Disney World® Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna®.  This was an opportunity for us to engage people across the country in our mission to support the entire MS community.  Wanting to jump in and be part of this important effort, I signed up for my third half marathon at Disney World.

Team MSAA-Disney included fourteen runners participating in the 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Full Marathon and, for two overachievers, all four consecutively!  I selected the half marathon which is 13.1 miles. Training for the 13.1 mile half marathon is a grueling process that takes dedication and stamina. However, living with the uncertainty and challenges of multiple sclerosis is much more difficult than training for any endurance event.  As one of the participants, I sent out my fundraising emails and received some wonderful donations.  I was proud to be a full member of Team MSAA.

As my inspiration, I reached out to board members, volunteers and friends across the country to add their name to my running singlet.

As you can see, I carried the names of so many people who struggle every day with multiple sclerosis.

Race weekend – let’s do this!

Ready to run, tutu and all!

We begin at a very, very cold start with 60,000 Disney runners including 13 Team MSAA members.

Rosa and Ramón in their Team MSAA shirts stopped by for a photo before we take off

The fireworks explode and we are on our way!  Throughout the run, I see elite athletes running easily and I see others digging down deep to finish this challenge.

Here I am at the 3-mile mark with Nemo and Dory – still a long way to go!

I reach the 7 mile mark and I am tired.  I grab a drink and look down at my singlet and see the names of so many who are tired every day and not just this one day.  I think about their stories of their diagnosis, their journey, their challenges and they inspire me to continue on in their honor. As you can see in the photo below, those living with multiple sclerosis, those caring for a loved one living with multiple sclerosis, the entire medical community that has dedicated their lives to research and care, propelled me through the next 6.1 miles and I cross the finish line!!

Victory! I crossed the finish line inspired by all of the members of the MS community.

On Sunday, I am cheering for Team MSAA members Bekah, Rachael, and Michelle who are participating in the full marathon. Bekah and Rachel are completing the Dopey Challenge which consists of a 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, and Full Marathon over the four days of the event.  They run in honor of their father, Dan, who lives with multiple sclerosis.

Here’s a picture of Rachael and Bekah after they completed the Dopey Challenge on Sunday. What an incredible accomplishment!

I received texts along the way as they cross milestones of 5K, 10K, 20K, 23 miles, and come ever closer to that 26.2 mile marathon finish line.  I received the final text that all three runners have now completed the run and are receiving their well-deserved medals.  The amazing thing is that Bekah, Rachael, Michelle and the entire team were thankful to have the opportunity to participate in this event and support our mission. It is the members of the MSAA staff who are honored and humbled by their efforts over so many months to physically train, mentally prepare, and financially support our mission.  I could not be prouder of my fellow Team MSAA members who participated in everything from the 5K to the Dopey Challenge.  You are inspiring, amazing, and incredible people!!

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Bisquick Quiche

This Bisquick Quiche Recipe was a Bisquick recipe on a box at some point, and I still use it and love it every time I make it for my family.

This recipe is simply the easiest and best quiche ever! It can be an easy vegetarian recipe too, just add your favorite veggies (minus the bacon)!!

Ingredients

  • 12 slices of bacon, cooked, drained, and crumbled
  • 1 Cup Swiss cheese, shredded (about 4 ounces)
  • 1/3 Cup onion, diced
  • 2 Cups milk
  • 1 Cup Bisquick
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1/2 Teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 Teaspoon ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 °F.
  2. Lightly grease a 10-inch pie plate.
  3. Sprinkle the crumbled bacon, shredded cheese, and diced onion evenly over the bottom of the pie plate.
  4. Beat the eggs with the salt and pepper and then stir in the milk.
  5. Add in the Bisquick and beat until smooth – it must be smooth to work.
  6. Pour the liquid mixture over the ingredients in the pie plate.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the quiche comes out clean.
  8. Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes.

Enjoy!

 

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I Need To Up My Game: Prioritizing Needs

By Stacie Prada

When I feel great, there’s no need to change what I’m doing.  Following new and improved advice may actually break the complex formula of nutrition, fitness, and lifestyle that keep me in good health. If I’m not feeling well, figuring out what I need and prioritizing it within the mix of all my other needs becomes an issue.

We subconsciously prioritize and adjust our behavior to meet our needs all the time.  For me the demand to put effort into prioritizing needs comes when I don’t feel well.  I’m stressed, something hurts, or some part of me isn’t working as well as usual.  It could be one small thing that is snowballing into a big issue, or it could be a big issue that’s easy to identify yet overwhelming to fix.

This past year, my pain level increased to a level that was affecting sleep and causing debilitating discomfort.  I researched possible causes and tried stretching, massage, supplements and rest. It helped a little but not much.  I went to a massage therapist who worked the muscles, and it caused almost unbearable pain for days. Through my neurologist, I tried medication and was told I’d need to take it for a few weeks before the side effects would mellow out.  I gave it a good try, but I could see it wasn’t going to be a good long-term solution for me right now.  I obtained a referral for physical therapy, and there I had someone work with me to specifically design a fitness regimen that will address my nerve pain. She assessed my personal condition and through trial and error pinpointed the cause of the pain.  She helped me devise a mix of exercises that will increase my strength, improve my balance, and hopefully reduce the nerve pain I’m living with.

Each step of the way, I had to make my health a priority while still doing everything else my life requires.  While under her care, I dutifully did all the exercises she prescribed.  It was tough doing it all, and it wasn’t something that I could sustain.

When I think about doing everything the physical therapist advised, I get overwhelmed. I want to do it all, but it’s too much right now.  I anticipated this and specifically asked her what the minimum daily fitness activities would be so that I could start there.  This took being honest with myself and with her.  I had to be open to being judged negatively and accept I’m not going to be the model patient I’d love to be.

I already have a minimum fitness routine I do every day and have been doing for years.  Seriously, I missed eight days two years ago and none last year.  I thought I was doing great, but it wasn’t enough to protect me from having problems develop.  So now I’m working on modifying my routine to deal with my changing body. I’m incorporating the minimum she gave me, and I have a long list of things to add when I’m ready.

I’m not doing everything she gave me, but I’ll get there.  And I like having the guidance for what to do when I’m ready to up my game. She may or may not approve of my approach, but I’m the one who knows me and lives with the consequences.

It feels like slow change, but it’s not no change.  I’m in it for the long haul and doing what I can as I can.

*Stacie Prada was diagnosed with RRMS in 2008 at the age of 38.  Her blog, “Keep Doing What You’re Doing” is a compilation of inspiration, exploration, and practical tips for living with Multiple Sclerosis while living a full, productive, and healthy life with a positive perspective. It includes musings on things that help her adapt, cope and rejoice in this adventure on earth. Please visit her at http://stacieprada.blogspot.com/ 

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This Year I Will…

Oh the New Year…. Everywhere you see signs, commercials, social media posts and billboards advertising “New Year, New You.” We all make resolutions to get to the gym, cut out the junk food, meet Mrs/Mr Right, get out of debt, budget better and there is nothing wrong with any of those things!! We could all use a better budget and probably to eat less simple carbs… especially after the holidays. But this year be encouraged to not create a brand new you, but finesse the you that’s already there and Do Less or Do More. Radical changes that turn things on their heads usually tend to end in disappointing failure which can cause even the most devote of us to doubt if we are ever going to be capable of change.

But what if instead we took stock of what we wanted, were honest with ourselves…not with our best intentions but with our real selves and instead of resolutions made Less/More lists. This year I have decided to Waste Less… of not only nature’s resources but also my time and energy on things that are not good for me. I’ve decided to Judge (both myself and others) Less in order to extend grace and understanding, to be Hurt Less in that every painful situation should not derail me continuing to live my life to the best of my abilities. To Doubt Less in my abilities and talents, in my own worth and potential and to Fear Less… to let fear have it’s rightful place but not take over from me the joy and growth that new experiences and tough situations can bring forth. I also decided to Reflect More on my surroundings and my place in the world, to Care (for both myself and others) More in that it’s ultimately my responsibility to be there for myself and I can extend that care to others until they are able to do so for themselves also. I decided to Explore More and Read More of the world around me in order that I can Grow More from experience and Learn More from others. I also decided to Accept More both the things I cannot change but wish I could, the people I encounter who are who they are and my own shortcomings and missteps. I have decided to Reach Out More to others, Connect More with the community and people around me and Love More in situations that I could use or might even feel called to insert hateful words, closed ears or turned backs, to decide that in spite of everything I will Love More.

I don’t need to be a New Me in this New Year… I needed to take stock of the things most important to me, evaluate and be honest about the things and people in my life and what I want from my life in order to come to the decision that this year…. This will be the year of More and Less of what I decide to make it. So what will you make it??

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Priority Number One: You

At the beginning of a new year, many people make resolutions for ways to make this calendar year better than the last one.  Some of the most common resolutions made at the beginning of the year include: dieting, exercising more, learning to budget money better, spending more time with friends and family, and learning a new language.  One resolution you might consider is learning to prioritize your own wants and needs, especially when it comes to living with MS.

It can feel selfish to focus on yourself and your own needs, but that doesn’t make it unimportant. We are able to give more of ourselves to the people and things we care about when we have first taken care of our own bodies and wellbeing.

Living with a chronic health condition like multiple sclerosis can force you to become better attuned to your body’s needs as the severity of your symptoms change.  Each person knows their body better than anyone, and knows their limitations (whether we choose to acknowledge them or not).  If you feel you need time and space to focus on a particular physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual need this year, make the time to do so.  Family, friends, hobbies, work, social life – they are all important, but so is your overall health and wellbeing.

This year, challenge yourself to create a new habit – choose at least one activity a day that helps you focus on self-care (and let us know in the comments how you are doing it)!

For more information and strategies for overall wellness this year, check out MSAA’s Overall Wellness section on their website.

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New Year, New Beginning

As it turned midnight on January 1st of 2018, I think a lot of people, including myself, held hopes that this new year would bring with it more optimism and hope, especially more so than its previous 2017 counterpart which brought controversy and devastation throughout the year. Entering a new year can mean new beginnings for things and more possibilities, but most importantly, a chance to reassess what your needs are and how to fulfill them. For some this may be physical needs as it relates to the body and addressing medical issues or concerns. For others this may mean focusing on emotional or spiritual needs and how this influences day to day and self-care. No matter what the needs look like, the beginning of a new year represents another fresh start to prioritize things and to take care of you.

It’s not always easy to do this with the chaos each day can bring, but that’s why you prioritize, so certain things take precedence over others when there’s not enough time in the day for everything. It may come down to making to-do lists with tasks and goals and crossing things off one by one, or setting one specific need as a goal to focus on for the week or entire month. The method of prioritizing needs doesn’t have to be perfect and it surely won’t look the same for everyone; it’s going to be tailored to each person and what their specific needs are. But it all begins with an act of self-respect; to increase awareness of what it is that’s needed and telling yourself you deserve it.

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January 2018 Artist of the Month: Celebrating the Work of Artists Affected by Multiple Sclerosis

MSAA is very proud to present our 2017-18 Art Showcase – celebrating the work of artists affected by multiple sclerosis (MS).

We have received many wonderful submissions from across the country and are delighted to share their work and their stories with you. Please visit our online gallery to view all of the new submissions.

Mary Winton – Colorado Springs, CO
New Skates

About the Artist:
“My life has always been absorbed with the creative arts. After receiving a degree in graphic design, I was fortunate to have had a long and fulfilling career in the art field.

Then I was diagnosed in 1995 with multiple sclerosis.

I was totally unaware of what kind of journey this disease was going to take me. This journey is one I’ve turned into a positive. It has shown me how strong and durable I can be.”
Read more

Send an eCard

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Meet the Board

MSAA strives to be a leading resource for the MS community by improving lives today through vital services and support – and we could not accomplish this without the help of our volunteer board members.  MSAA’s Board of Directors is comprised of accomplished professionals from across the country who volunteer their time to further MSAA’s mission. With our new series, Meet the Board, we hope to introduce you to our wonderful volunteer board members!

MSAA is proud to highlight two volunteer board members this month – John McCorry and James Anderson, Esq.

John McCorry
Board Chair, Member of the Executive Committee and Communications and Marketing Committee

Professional Background: John McCorry of Princeton, New Jersey is Senior Executive Editor for the Americas at Bloomberg News, in charge of more than 40 bureaus and the top news from the region. Previously, Mr. McCorry had been in charge of global company and regional news operations since 2003. Prior to that, Mr. McCorry was Managing Editor for North American company news, a position he began in 1998. He joined Bloomberg as a reporter in 1992 covering municipal finance and the bond markets and helped Bloomberg News win a Deadline Club award for its coverage of the Orange County bankruptcy.

James M. (Jim) Anderson, Esq.
Immediate Past Chair, Executive Committee Member

Professional Background: Jim Anderson of Ridgeland, Mississippi is the Managing Member of Anderson Crawley & Burke, pllc, a Mississippi law firm headquartered in the Jackson, Mississippi area. An Honor graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi and a cum laude graduate of the Mississippi College School of Law, Mr. Anderson is active in numerous professional organizations surrounding his private law practice where he focuses on workers’ compensation litigation, insurance/self-insurance regulation, and mediation. In 2012, he was named the Lawyer of the Year for Outstanding Lifetime Achievement in the Legal Community by the Mississippi College School of Law.


What inspired you to join MSAA’s Board of Directors?

McCorry: “My inspiration was a desire to give back. I’ve been profoundly lucky in life, and I wanted to help others. The fact that my wife, Rebecca Cox, was diagnosed with MS in 1999 of course was also a factor. Strangely enough, that wasn’t the event that landed me on the MSAA board eight years ago. That happened because my lifelong friend Bob Manley, then an MSAA board member and future chairman, asked if I would like to help because the board didn’t have anyone with media experience. I was honored to join, and have been blessed to be associated with this great organization ever since. I’ve gotten back at least what I’ve given into the effort – learning, understanding the disease and its effects, meeting some great people, and hopefully helping those affected by multiple sclerosis.”

Anderson: “In my search for an opportunity to serve the community-at-large in a meaningful way, I discovered MSAA through a friend who was then serving on the Board.  After learning MSAA’s history, mission, and focus, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to participate on a Board that was making a difference in the lives of those who were impacted by multiple sclerosis.  My impression has been proven valid.  Learning the details of the implementation of MSAA’s mission, getting to know the MSAA staff members who do such an amazing job, and experiencing firsthand the impact the MSAA makes on the MS community has been a wonderful and life changing experience.”

What are your goals as an MSAA Board Member?

McCorry: “I’m goal-oriented in general, so I find that I match my goals to those of the organization. In that regard, I’ve tried to help define initiatives that could assist our clients – psychosocial workshops, better ways for the community to communicate, etc. I’ve worked on our goal to raise financing to fund all these programs that improve lives—today.  More philosophically, I’ve tried to bring what I’ve learned in life and in my work as a journalist to the MSAA’s efforts. We have a compelling story to tell – how do we do so to reach the widest, most influential audience? What programs can we start that will not only make us a better organization to serve clients, but will contribute to the world at large? Wrestling with those sorts of questions hopefully helps all of us at MSAA and those who use the organization, and also makes for an interesting, fulfilling experience for me and all my colleagues at MSAA.”

Anderson: “My focus as a Board member continues to be on the evolution of the MSAA as the leader in providing services to those whose lives are impacted by multiple sclerosis. The Board’s governance role in achieving that status is the result of the combined efforts of the many talented people serving on the Board, working with the very talented MSAA staff, and collaborating with other interested organizations throughout the multiple sclerosis community. Expanding revenue streams to meet the needs of the MS community and improve the services offered by MSAA is a very worthwhile and rewarding challenge, but it remains the reason I continue to serve.”


Editor’s Note: MSAA is extremely proud and honored to enlist the support of John McCorry, Jim Anderson and all of our dedicated Board Members who volunteer their time, expertise, compassion, and leadership to help us achieve our mission of improving lives today for the entire MS community. We are very grateful for their service and look forward to their continued support as we strive to serve more people in more places than ever before. Thank you once again John and Jim!

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