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From the Chair

by John Bjornson

John Bjornson

John Bjornson

Did you know that MS is the third most expensive prime-of-life disease to live with, averaging about $60,000 per year in patient care and lost income?

That’s just one more reason why we’re here to help.  

As you’ll see in articles throughout this issue, our Chapter helps individuals and families living with MS handle some of the burdensome financial challenges they face - whether it’s getting and keeping a job, paying for prescription drugs, easing the physical barriers to mobility, or helping to pay for a college education.

We are also actively working to educate employers about some of the easy ways they can accommodate employees living with MS to enable them to remain active, productive workers. Employers are the real customers of health care plans. They’re the ones who design the benefit packages that determine the health care options that their employees will - or won’t - have access to. By partnering with employers and insurers, we can make sure that those options are robust enough to offer care with the best MS specialists with the full complement of MS drug therapies.

The National MS Society’s biggest challenge on this front is forming our own network among the human resources leaders of Washington’s employers. Many of you can help us by brokering introductions to HR and benefits planners in your companies.

Speaking of companies, we’re now ready to look forward to our next big event of the year - the Bike MS Ride (previously the MS 150). In addition to being a gorgeous and well-supported two-day ride, Bike MS has quickly established itself as the foremost corporate team-focused cycling event in the Northwest. By encouraging businesses to form teams, we take advantage of one more way to leverage awareness of MS and its impact.

We are proud of the $1.5 million we raised last year from Bike MS and equally proud that our 2008 Walk MS event once again broke fundraising and participation records! This success only inspires us to do more so that we can continue to support great programs to help families with MS live well.

How can you help? Start right now to get a team together to train for Bike MS in September. Follow up with your Walk MS teammates to begin planning for 2009. And don’t forget to open up those lines of communication with employers.

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