MS fundraising: taking it one step further

We are all familiar with the MS walks, MS Swims, MS Bikes and even MS Mudfests - each of these events is designed specifically to  raise money to support Multiple Sclerosis programs and research. They are a great way to get everyone involved and supporting the necessary steps to finding a cause/cure/prevention for MS.

There are large amounts of money donated from businesses who support these events, but it is also raised by all of us with our donations small and big and the support of our family and friends. Many of us find a way to donate to these events and actively participate - there is a great sense of satisfaction after these walks are completed and we gather at the finish line to celebrate the accomplishment.

There are additional MS funding finish lines being drawn these days looking for our support and I hope you will consider them for additional ways you can help these MS causes –Twice in the past week I have found notices in my email about projects on Indiegogo that will benefit people with MS. Indiegogo is a crowdfunding website and as they explain it – “Indiegogo is the place where people come together to make it happen.” The concept of Indigogo is quite simple – if you have an idea and need help to fund it, you put it on their site and find ways to encourage other people to make financial donations to make the ideas a reality. If an idea sparks our interest and we see a value in it, we can add our dollars to those of others and eventually come up with lots of dollars to back the ideas.

Now how does this crowdfunding apply to Multiple Sclerosis? The first is a campaign to fund stem cell research at the Tisch MS Center in New York City. This is an FDA approved, Phase I clinical study and their goal is to raise $300,000 to buy the equipment needed in their labs to undertake this study. They are requesting money from the government and pharmaceutical companies to fund the remainder of this study. This is the ideal opportunity for those of us who can afford it, to help with furthering stem cell research.

The second Indiegogo campaign that grabbed my attention and a few more of my dollars is Save the Wheelchair, a project that supports the efforts of the United Spinal Association (USA). USA partners with leading MS organizations, including the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA) to provide education and support for those of us with spinal cord problems. If you have not been to their website, I encourage you to do so, even if you don’t use a wheelchair – there is a slew of excellent material on their website and specific sections for people with MS.

The Save the Wheelchair project is a small effort by one individual to help assist with USA’s fund for advocates to get to Washington D.C. Specifically from USA - “What We're Fighting For- Our goal is to get Congress to pass HR 492/S. 948, a bill to establish a benefit to ensure that persons with spinal cord injuries and disorders will be able to get custom power wheelchairs, ultra lightweight wheelchairs and seating systems under the Medicare program. Medicare currently does not have unique coverage for the more complex equipment that so many wheelchair users rely upon.’’

As I read about the complex wheelchair funding (my home state of Ohio passed one similar last year) it is easy to understand how each of us might need a different style or fit of chair depending on our own body and level of activities. Right now, government insurance does not allow for individual differences and basically has a one-size-fits-all wheelchair reimbursement policy. Donating to Save the Wheelchair will allow people who know these challenges first-hand, to meet with legislators and hopefully influence their policy making decisions. The financial goal of Save the Wheelchair is a modest $15,000.

Through Indiegogo, small contributions made by a large number of people can make these ideas happen. If you are unable to donate a few dollars, please at least take the time to visit their pages and read more about the work of the Tisch MS Center and the United Spinal Association – they both are taking important next steps for Multiple Sclerosis. They provide enough information on their cause through their site that at the least you might take that information and a few moments and write our government officials to support funding stem cell research and complex wheelchair assistance.

Walk, Swim, Run or Gogo – they are all great ways we can help move toward a better world for people with MS.

Wishing you well,

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