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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A Message from Our New President & CEO – Gina Ross Murdoch

Welcome to 2016! As we begin a new year, I am thrilled and honored to be assuming the role of President and Chief Executive Officer of our Multiple Sclerosis Association of America. My fourteen years with the National MS Society galvanized my dedication to all affected by MS. I join our organization building on the great foundation established by Doug Franklin, Bob Rapp, the Board of Directors, volunteers, and the entire staff. These visionary leaders have made a significant impact on the lives of those affected by multiple sclerosis. Through their dedication to improving lives, so many of our members have received much-needed equipment, critical MRIs, cutting-edge technology via our My MS Manager mobile app, and invaluable information through our programs. I would be remiss if I didn’t start off my first post with a heartfelt thank you for all that they have done.

Going into this new year, we face challenges and new opportunities. The worlds of healthcare, insurance and research are constantly changing. Despite this varied landscape, we at YOUR MSAA remain singular in our focus to improve lives. Although this is our singular focus, it is not our singular responsibility. I encourage each and every one of you to get involved in MSAA activities and help us expand the word about how we are here to help. Multiple sclerosis is unpredictable. I have seen that all too well in my many years engaged with our community. I have seen some do well on our ever growing list of disease-modifying treatments. I have also seen those who have lost so much to MS and the overwhelming effects of that diagnosis on their families.

Now as we face the challenges and opportunities of a new year, I invite you to be an advocate for MSAA, for yourself and for those still to be diagnosed. We have made an impact but every week 200 more people need our help, need our information, need our support. Collectively, our MSAA members are in the hundreds of thousands – a very powerful agent for improving lives. My goal is to work collectively with staff, board members, volunteers, and our partners to continue our key programs while also investigating what new services our members need tomorrow. Together, we can take the good work of MSAA to so many more. Together, we can touch more lives and IMPROVE more lives. You will hear me a lot during this year – where we are, what we are doing and how YOU can be a part of our next chapter. I encourage you to reach out to me and let us know about opportunities in your town, your state and your region. A constant flow of information leads to quicker and better ideas.

I thank you in advance for your involvement, your passion, your feedback, and your dedication to Improving Lives and Planning for Tomorrow.

Happy New Year,

Gina Ross Murdoch
MSAA President & CEO

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