I wasn't officially diagnosed until October 27, 2010. That day was so bittersweet for me and my family. No, I never grew up wanting to hear the words "Lee, you have "MS" but I was so relieved to learn that I was not CRAZY. I had a clinical name for what was wrong with me and a plan to move forward.
The biggest part of that plan was to get back to my desk at work and back to the life that I was blessed with in so many ways. Well, I never got back to the desk that I left on a beautiful, sunny day on May 26, 2010, but I did find a new path that has given my life so much more meaning. It doesn't pay in monetary value but it is the most rewarding job that I ever had. It is connecting with others who are faced with this life sentence of MS. I don't have alot to offer anyone financially (well not just yet - we are working on that one) but I do have an ear to listen, a shoulder to lean on and a Voice that I can use for all.
Shortly after my diagnosis, I found about Walk MS and registered my family to participate in our local chapters walk. Never in a million years did I except the out pourting of love, support and generosity that I received. So inspired by my supporters, I approached my family to form our own foundation that would help our local South Jersey residents with the financial burdens of living with MS.
We formed Lee's MSketeers on July 7, 2011 and proudly received our 501(c)(3) non profit status on August 26, 2012.
As of right now, it is run by myself, children and my BFF of 25+ years. It is strictly fueled by the passion, love, generosity and support of the public. We have held a few fundraisers on a shoe string and just recently raised almost $1800 during MS Awareness Week.
The Mission of Lee's MSketeers Foundation is to provide financial assistance to individuals who live in the South Jersey area who are coping with the day-to-day challenges of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) As we grow, our wish is to help everyone in the US. The Foundation hopes to make a difference by removing some of the unanticipated financial burdens placed on individuals and their families who are living with MS. Working with the National MS Society- Greater Delaware Valley Chapter will allow us to be connected with those who do not fall under the NMSS criteria.
The average cost of MS in the United States is nearly $70,000 a year, with the overall annual economic cost of MS being an estimated $28 billion, people living with MS face high out-of-pocket costs even when covered by health insurance. The high out-of-pocket costs for medical care and treatment create not only a financial burden but also discourage people from starting and staying on therapy, which right now is the best approach available for preventing disease activity in people with relapsing MS, the most common form of the disease.
It is our hope that by easing the financial burden, we can lessen the hardship and facilitate a stress- free environment bringing about a positive change for persons living with MS.