Changing Lives and Gaining Skills

Imagine a life without the daily independence of walking, running, driving, holding and thinking.

These actions may seem ordinary, but to someone who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis, commonly known as MS, they are extraordinary and every movement matters.

According to the Multiple Sclerosis Society, MS interferes with the flow of information between the brain and the body and it prevents people from moving. Every hour in the United States, someone is newly diagnosed with MS, which is a disease of the central nervous system. Symptoms of MS range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis.

Three years ago I began the team Walk it Out Chico State, and led 20 to 30 Chico State students to Yuba City to walk and support the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Northern California. After raising more than $5,000, I was committed to this cause and continued to support this society through annual walks in Yuba City and fundraisers I implemented in Chico. This past year, I was not only the team captain of Walk it Out Chico State, but I was also the Chair and Site Coordinator of WALK MS 2013.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience of working with the Multiple Sclerosis Society and have applied it to the skills I have learned from majoring in journalism. Volunteering with this non-profit organization has given me the skills to be resourceful, creative on a budget and learn how to work with a diverse group of all ages, disabilities and economic statuses.

This experience was challenging, frustrating and at times I wanted to give it up, but the ability of changing someone’s quality of life always brought it home for me. Four years ago, my mom was diagnosed with MS and I believe this society has provided me with a way to support my mom, although I am six hours away from home.

I would encourage all students to align their college experiences with volunteering for a non-profit organization they are passionate about. This will not only open their minds, hearts and understandings of people’s differences, but it will also provide them with tools they can apply to any career path.