Alessandro and I cannot explain how lucky we feel to have so many friends and family members support us every year during Walk MS.
I am lately feeling especially grateful as we are at a point where we are struggling a bit with the ineffectiveness of his past treatments and the frustrations that come along with that. We are hoping now more than ever for a new treatment that will work for him. The importance of our fundraising efforts during Walk MS each year was seriously reinforced for me the other day.
We attended a small "Thank You" reception put on by the Michigan Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society for top fundraisers and supporters. Leading neurologist Paula Dore-Duffy was on hand to tell the group exactly what happens to the funds we all raise. Dr. Dore-Duffy received a grant through the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) to conduct a study on a strand of stem cells that she has identified and isolated in her laboratory. The stem cells she identified are called human fat pluripotent pericytes. She proposes that human fat pericytes have clinical potential for use in cell replacement therapies to treat people with MS. These pericytes could help regenerate some of the damaged myelin, potentially reducing symptoms. The cool thing about pericytes is that they can be produced quickly and ethically (for example, from fat cells left over from liposuction) unlike other stem cells you may have heard about.
She is able to conduct further studies on this unique stem cell only because of the grant she received from the NMSS. She informed us that federal government grant funding for drug treatment studies is very limited right now, and that without funding through the NMSS and other organizations like it, so many research projects would go unfunded. The money we all raise each year during Walk MS directly supports Dr. Dore-Duffy's research and other research projects like hers. And you never know which research project will be the key.
Alessandro asked her how soon she thought this therapy could be put into the works if it turned out it had potential to be successful and she said quite soon. Here's to hoping.
But more importantly, here's to action. Team Alessandro has raised $12,427 dollars this year! In the past 4 years, we have raised nearly $45,000. The fundraising numbers always meant new hope and new treatment to me, but they took on a new meaning this year. Alessandro has been having so much difficulty this summer, and he is switching to yet another new treatment. Don't even get me started on how the insurance won't cover one of the treatments his doctor wanted to try. I think this is as good of a place as any to be honest about what it means to live with a serious disease, so I may be posting something soon about the difficulties we've been having lately. (Sorry, it can't always be food and games around here).
Anyway, I came here to write about Team Alessandro's efforts this year, to thank each and every one of you who has helped throughout the years, and to ask you to help Team Alessandro reach its goal of raising $13,000 this year. We are so close. Fundraising for this year's Walk MS ends on September 30th, and you can make a donation online by clicking on my personal fundraising page here. $5, $20, $50...anything you can give would be much appreciated. If you have already donated this year or in years past, we thank you so much and feel so lucky to have your support.
This year's Walk MS took place on May 5, 2013 in Detroit. I hope you enjoy these special pictures of our friends and families, and especially of our precious nieces and nephews.