Since being diagnosed with RRMS in April 2018, I have fully thrown myself into various volunteer opportunities with the MS Society in an effort to learn more about "my new friend" and meet other people on this journey. To date, I have volunteered at MS Walk and Bike and am currently planning an MS Winter Gala to raise funds in Calgary on January 31, 2019. When the opportunity arose to sit on the committee for the Young Adult Summit, I enthusiastically wanted to get involved.
I have had a career in marketing and communications for 10 years (currently as a Senior Marketing Manager at TELUS) and feel my skill set can be leveraged for this opportunity. I look forward to enriching the lives of those young people living with MS and meeting some wonderful people along the way.
I am a 19-year-old currently living in St. Albert, Alberta. I am taking political science at the University of Alberta. I first became involved with the MS Society of Canada when I was 15 years old in support of my mother who has been living with MS for the last 22 years. Since then I have fielded a walk team for the last four years for the St. Albert Jayman BUILT MS Walk, as well as a bike team for the 2018 Johnson Leduc to Camrose MS Bike Tour. Other projects I have worked on include the STRIDE Initiative and The MSTourForTheCure.
STRIDE is an initiative designed to help schools build, maintain, and grow MS walk teams by establishing school teams with staff, students, and administration. MSTourForTheCure is a bike tour I planned set to take place through eight European countries over the course of 10 weeks in the summer of 2019 with the goal of raising $15,000 for the MS Society of Canada. The bike tour will be over 2,500km starting in Paris, France and ending in Belgrade Serbia. I am cycling the entire length of this tour to increase awareness for MS.
Other experience with the MS Society has included public speaking events, event planning, and organizing other fundraisers which have developed skills that will help in planning the 2019 forum. My strongest skills include public speaking, workshop/education facilitation, and event planning. My greatest interest in the MS community is to focus more on MS education within schools and with youth in particular.
I am a Young Adult Ambassador for the MS Society, Manitoba Division, and I currently co-coordinate and facilitate a self-help support group for young adults living with MS in Winnipeg and surrounding areas. I was diagnosed with RRMS at the age of 21 and since then, I have advocated for the MS community. In 2015/2016, I was an MS Walk Ambassador, which included participation in a series of marketing paraphernalia such as TV interviews and speaking at/attending special events. I enjoy fundraising for different causes in my community and I have been a Winnipeg MS Walk top fundraiser since 2014. In 2015, I graduated from the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor of Arts degree and majored in psychology due to my passion for the human mind and behaviour. I presently work full-time as an Business Systems Analyst at Manitoba Hydro. I have experience planning numerous types of events such as fundraising events, conferences for young adults, educational sessions and social events.
When I’m not volunteering in my community, I enjoy travelling, cooking for my family and playing with my fur-baby Boston Terrier. I believe that everyone should have equal opportunities and I am passionate about inclusion and diversity. My aspiration in life is to make a difference in the lives of people in my community through mentorship and support.
Stuart has been volunteering with the MS Society since 2012. As a leader of a support group for Young Professionals with MS, a member of the MS Society's Ontario & Nunavut Social Action Committee and a former member of the MS Society Youth Advisory Group, Stuart advocates for changes to help people newly diagnosed with MS lead fulfilling lives.
As MS frequently affects young people just when they are entering into the prime of their lives, Stuart hopes that his work with the MS society will help ensure that no one diagnosed with the disease is deprived of the opportunity to reach their potential.
My name is Melissa, and I live in Toronto with my fiancé, our rescue pup, and crazy kitty! I was diagnosed with MS in 2012, when I was 24, so MS has been a part of my life for a long time now. I’m excited to be a part of this committee! I hope to make use of my organizational and planning skills that I honed with my background in film, but I’m open to trying new things and helping out wherever needed! I enjoy speaking to others affected by MS, especially those who have recently been diagnosed, and I do this often as a volunteer with shift.ms, which is a big part of my life. I try my best to keep a positive outlook, and I always want to make people laugh. I think laughter is the key to a good life! I also love to write, and travel, and write about my travelling! I think involving young people in the MS Society is so important, and that is why I think this committee will do great things, and I’m excited to be a part of it!
My name is Blair Graham, and I have had RRMS for 11 years. I was diagnosed at the age of 18, I am now 30, and I have a lot of experience in traversing daily life with MS on my own. I have a BA of Visual Arts from Brock University, and I have previously volunteered and worked for non-profit organizations. I think of myself as an open-minded and easy-to-talk-to person. I am down-to-earth and love to learn. I am a creative soul with an insatiable curiosity, and I love to laugh. I love art, reading, and observing and making art. I am a bibliophile, I love music, and movies, and creative writing. My family and friends are of high importance to me, and my cat, Lenore, is my furbaby.
Prior to being diagnosed, I had been fighting a long battle with my mental health. It wasn’t long before I learned that my mental health and my MS were irrevocably connected. My biggest beliefs regarding MS are: 1. We are more than a diagnosis. 2. To overcome and carry on, we must nurture our bodies, minds, and spirits. 3. Our lives don’t stop because of MS.
Only in the last few years have I felt comfortable enough in myself to be a part of MS Society events. I used to feel like I didn’t fit in in places where I didn’t look like the other people there. I have learned that I have a lot to offer, no matter the stage of their MS journey, and that being a part of this community benefits me as well. From the age of 16 on, I have advocated for mental health. I have worked hard to help people of all ages overcome their mental health issues, especially at high stakes moments. Since I was young, I have had a unique perspective and a fighting spirit. I was often the sort to stand up for the underdog and help them. I wanted to be a part of this committee because I see the importance of bolstering the younger generation and re-educating everyone on what it is to live with or love someone who lives with multiple sclerosis. My desire is to help make a community of inclusivity, where everyone can feel equal and fulfilled.
I was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis at the age of 21. The disease was progressing quickly, and it seemed as though relapses were happening monthly, from facial paralysis to loss of regular motor skills. After a few years of trying different treatments, both holistic and pharmaceutical, nothing was working and my ability to walk was dissipating. I felt completely hopeless that I would find a way to stabilize my condition, until one day a friend sent me an article posted in the Ottawa Citizen about stem cell treatment for MS patients. At the time I didn’t believe that this article would’ve changed my life, but it did!
In October 2015, I underwent a stem cell transplant in Ottawa, Ontario and I have not had a relapse since. I feel so grateful to have been given a second chance to live a life without MS symptoms.
I’m currently living in Vancouver BC, working as full-time barber. I maintain a healthy and active way of life, MS has motivated me to make many positive changes in my lifestyle over the years. I’d love to share my experiences and it is now my goal to help others to make healthy and positive changes in their lives.
With amazing support from Aaron Solowoniuk and Amanda Piron!