My story starts like many others diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). One day I am fine and the next day I am seeing two of everything. This is 1999, I am 22 years old and student teaching while taking four classes to finish my master’s in education. I am planning to start my teaching career the following September.
I did not have the time for a million tests and scans to get to the bottom of the double vision, but I didn’t want to wear an eye patch indefinitely and certainly needed see again. Two weeks later the definitive diagnosis stopped me in my tracks. “You have MS.” I wish I had had a crystal ball and really knew how much MS would take from me.
Fast forward to 23 year later, and I now fully understand what it means to live with multiple sclerosis. There have been many difficult times accompanied by fear and sadness that come with this disease. The strength of my family, friends, and the community where I would set down roots have taught the real meaning of turning “lemons into lemonade.”
I have been a Briarcliff Manor resident since I landed my first teaching job at Ossining High School right after graduate school. Eventually, after living in the area for 10 years, my husband and I decided to raise our son in Briarcliff Manor. Along with my parents, these four caretakers have been on the sidelines supporting me through my daily MS related problems, as well as in my darkest days. Without them I may not have the strength to keep fighting to find a cure for MS.
This drive started in 1999 right after the newly diagnosed, social butterfly in me wanted to figure out how to meet others with MS. Just three weeks after my diagnosis, I participated in my first Walk MS with three friends. I created a team called 2Steppers after my favorite Dave Matthews Band song, “Two Step.” The lyrics express celebrating life every day. Little did I know those four friends would triple by the next year and grow into a powerhouse Westchester Walk MS team. Currently, my team a has raised close to half a million dollars, with a goal to break through to the other side of that number this year!
So how did this happen?
It starts with my extremely dedicated team members including family, friends from childhood, college, and many from the Briarcliff Community. We have also continuously tried to get creative in how we raise money. In 2016, my son and I started going door to door asking local businesses on the strip in Briarcliff for donations for a raffle to support Walk MS. Stores like Wonderous Things, Briarcliff Toy Store, March, Briarcliff Market & Deli, Value Drugs and so many others were quick to donate gift baskets, food, gift cards and supplies. Our first two years we sold raffle tickets in front of Value Drugs and raised over $1,000 each time thanks to the generosity of community shoppers. So many community members shared personal connections to MS and this motivated me to be the community voice and local face of MS and am proud to do it!
In the spring of 2018 and 2019 we hosted a shopping boutique event in my home with community donated raffles and seven different vendors. These events proved why it is so important to reach out to your community for support, because I felt the love from every person who came and made deep personal connections with others who confided their MS and other health related challenges.
In early March of 2020, I sat down with my planning partner to finalize details for the next month’s boutique. Five days later our world turned upside-down, so we postponed, and then postponed once more, and then cancelled the boutique plans completely. Little did I ever think that for two years there would be no in person walks, or community events.
However, this year Walk MS and 2Steppers are back. We would love to get you to help all of us out there living with MS! The greater community of Briarcliff Manor, Chappaqua, Pleasantville and Ossining can help support us in many ways.
On Sunday, April 3, 2022, my team will once again meet at Glen Island Park in New Rochelle and join approximately 1,000 other walkers. I would love to grow our team with anyone interested in walking with us. Most people know someone living with this horrendous disease and walking in their honor will help us feel fantastic.
Our team’s next event, Shop, Sip and Support Boutique is on Sunday, March 27, 2022 in Briarcliff. This year we will have local artisans such as Briarcliff’s own tonyBny, nationwide vendors such as Pampered Chef, as well as many others. If you would like to be involved by being a vendor, donating goods/raffle prizes, or just want to come shop, please get in touch with me using the contact information below.
Finally, you can donate to Walk MS and help me to reach my personal fundraising goal and help all of us fighting this incurable and unpredictable disease. All the details about our events, how to join the team, how to donate and so much more can be found at www.2steppers.org. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org, and I welcome all correspondence, including hearing from others in our community who have personal connections to multiple sclerosis.
Let’s make more lemonade together!