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From the Chair 

By John Bjornson

John Bjornson

John Bjornson
Board Chair

This space has been occupied the past two years by the inspirational words of former Board Chair Joe Piper, my mentor and an extraordinary leader whose family connection to MS made a profound impact on him and on his work for the Chapter. I’m humbled to follow in his footsteps.

Unfortunately, my story is about as inspirational as reading the Oxford dictionary. When I attended my first MS Luncheon four years ago, I knew nothing about the disease. And when I was approached about joining the Board, my first reaction was, “How do I say no to another commitment?”

But every reason I had for saying no became three reasons for saying yes. I was fascinated by the disease itself, inspired by the tenacity and courage of people living with MS, and excited about the prospect of how I might help address the many challenges they live with.

Along the way, I discovered I had known perhaps 15 people who either had the disease or were deeply affected by having a close family member with MS.

And so, years before the National MS Society launched its campaign to encourage people across the nation to “Join the Movement,” I joined whole-heartedly. People talk about the “club” they join when they’re diagnosed with MS, and I am very proud to say I’m part of a different and important group - a growing club of people not directly living with MS but who are committed to making a difference in the lives of those who are.

Imagine what we will accomplish when our community embraces the vision of a world without MS? Margaret Mead said it only takes a few individuals to change the world, and our Pacific Northwest community has all the resources we need to do this as we work to bring more people without strong MS ties into our efforts.

We’ve already made great headway with our successful “Why Here?” awareness campaign, now in its second year. By educating people about the high prevalence of MS in the Pacific Northwest, we have invited them to learn more and to get involved. As a result, not only has general awareness increased, but more people with MS have discovered the wealth of programs and services we provide to make their lives better. And, many others have joined our fundraising events and have learned about the research advances we support.

The Movement will continue to grow during my next two years as your Board Chair. I hope you’ll become more involved too, and invite others to join us in advancing a world free of MS.

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