Understanding MS: One Question Begins Journey

Contributing writer

HOOSIER PASS: Kevin O’Sullivan, a national director of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, at Hoosier Pass riding in the MS 150, a two-day, 150 mile bike tour. This year was his 17th to ride the fund-raising event, where he has logged over 40,000 miles since the first challenge.

Courtesy of Kevin O’Sullivan

My lifelong allegiance to participating in the challenge to discover the cause and cure of Multiple Sclerosis began in the 1980s. My friend Bud Sartain asked me to join a group of young professionals who would raise money for MS, and have quite a bit of fun along the way. It was easy to say yes to Bud…I followed that with, “what is MS?”

MS is thought to be an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system. Surrounding and protecting the nerve fibers of the central nervous system is a fatty tissue called myelin, which helps the nerve fibers conduct electrical impulses. In MS, myelin is lost in multiple areas, leaving scar tissue called sclerosis. When the myelin or nerve fiber is damaged or destroyed, the ability of the nerve fiber to conduct its business is disrupted.

I served as a member of the Oklahoma Chapter Board of Trustees, then as an officer, a vice chair and then as chairman of the board for two years. I accepted the challenge of riding in the MS 150, a two-day, 150 mile bike tour. This year will be my 17th year to ride this event, and I have logged over 40,000 miles since that first challenge!

As the new millennium approached, I accepted the call to be chapter chair again, and then the subsequent honor of becoming one of the 36 national directors of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. The experience of volunteering on a board of a national volunteer health organization is extraordinary. I am inspired by the courage and strength of the individuals and families affected by MS, the commitment of the many healthcare professionals to discovering the cause, and ultimately the cure of this devastating disease.

I accepted the invitation to become a volunteer for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to learn about the disease and to participate in the quest to find its cure. What I received in return has been immeasurable; both in life-enriching experiences and in the personal satisfaction of knowing that working together, we truly can make a difference.

It all started with a simple question: “Will you join us?”

Updated 03-30-2005

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