Our MS Superheroes Five unforgettable Tales of people fighting against MS

Forget Spiderman, Batman, and the Avengers. We offer you real heroes fighting multiple sclerosis every day and contributing to the larger MS community. As part of the 2015 National MS Education and Awareness Month®, and with your help, the MSF set out to find them. And you came through.

Dozens of worthy nominations were made in the MS Superhero Awards, making it difficult to pick just three winners. In the end, we had five winners in four categories: two for MS Superhero, Captain Healthcare, Advocate of Caliber, and Amazing Ambassador, which was added after the nominations were received. The winner in each category will receive an iPad.

MS Superheroes assemble! Advocates unite!

MS Superheroes

Darlene Trotsky, of Cedar City, Utah
Nominated by Diane Marrero

Darlene Trotsky has dealt with her own experiences with MS by always striving to help others in our community with MS. More than 10 years ago she and a friend had an idea for a kind of support group that was social in nature. She arranged for a meeting place, and once a month a few of us would meet, visit, eat lunch, and share with each other. Often Darlene arranged informative speakers. Sometimes there were only six or seven of us, but it was an enjoyable time.

News of the MSF-affiliated Lunch Club spread, and our numbers grew. We moved from a small room into the large dining room at Los Prados Country Club. We had more than 200 members, with 40 to 60 attending each month, and up to 110 at parties. For many of us, going to the MS Lunch Club was a high point of the month, a time to go out, enjoy a good meal, and connect and socialize with our MS family.

Darlene was an important part of our exercise programs, and was instrumental in finding new locations for our classes when we needed them. She is a real powerhouse in all aspects of MS in the Las Vegas community. She also had a relationship with the Cleveland Clinic and its programs, and Dr. Timothy West, which was beneficial for all of us.

It was hard on all of us when Darlene had to relocate to Utah, but she came back to Las Vegas for as long as she could. When a new leader appeared, Darlene stepped in to help guide her, and to make sure the Lunch Club would continue. In Utah, her new home, she is leading two MSF-affiliated support groups: one in Cedar City and another in St. George.

Stephanie Townsend Ayers, of Tocca, Ga.
Nominated by Christopher Ayers

My wife, Stephanie Townsend Ayers was first diagnosed with MS around 15 years ago when she woke up one morning with optic neuritis. She deals with daily exhaustion, pain, and heat intolerance. Despite her symptoms, Stephanie is a mother to our 10 children, ages 8 to 29; a homeschool teacher; a grandmother to three grandsons; a foster mother; an owner of an auction company; an author; and maker of baby quilts.
My wife has homeschooled our 10 children since the oldest started school about 24 years ago. Regardless of how she has felt or how she feels, she plans and teaches each day so our children will get a good education. All of our children who have desired to go to college have attended. We have two sons in the U.S. Marines.

Despite daily pain and loss of energy, Stephanie rarely, if ever, complains or slows down. She continues to run the auction company, teach, sew, and write. She is currently working on another book and today she was making Easter dresses for our three youngest daughters.

Advocate of Caliber

Alan Thralls, of Lutz, Fla.
Nominated by Holly Morris

Caring for a person with MS is steady work. I was 19 and diagnosed with a neurodegenerative disease on Nov. 11, 2013, my diagnosis of MS. I was scared and felt helpless. MS? What was this? My grandpa, Alan Thralls, has been there with me ever since, riding front row next to me on this MS rollercoaster. He was asking the doctor questions I couldn’t even bear to voice.

The rest of my family was in denial, unable to accept my diagnosis thinking my disease would perform some kind of magical disappearing act and vanish into thin air. It drove a wedge between my family and me. They didn’t understand all my new-found symptoms. Not my grandfather – it didn’t scare him off one bit. If anything it’s brought him closer to me. Whether it was giving me shots of disease-modifying therapy every day, or sitting in a cancer center with me every 28 days for four hours as I get my veins pumped with Tysabri.

Every doctor’s visit, every hospitalization, he was there. And support groups, when I began to fall into a black cloud of depression, they helped me realize I wasn’t the only one life this disease has affected. He has been there with me helping me in any way he can, even if it meant it conflicted with something in his life. He remained by my side as I woke up in the hospital from my first seizure.

MS has taken so many things from me, but it will not take the love and support my grandfather has for me.

Captain Healthcare

Dr. Stephen Treon, of Copperhill, Tenn.
Nominated by Twyla Cochran

Dr. Treon goes above and beyond just being a doctor for me. I have had two fundraisers to benefit people with MS. Dr. Treon has showed up at both events. He took time off from his crazy schedule to talk on our local television station to explain what MS is. He did all this because I asked. The last fundraiser was a concert. He went to it to check on the singer who wasn’t feeling well. He still makes house calls. He doesn’t believe in a quick visit at his office. He will sit with me and explain to me everything I have a question on.

Amazing MSF Ambassador

Nick Marchesani, of Glenwood, N.J.
Nominated by Andrea Novak, Gloria Loops, Carole L. LaValle, Edye Marshall, and Marilyn J. Crum

Kershaw Commons is a pretty unique place to live, where all 30 tenants share a common bond, we all have MS. We are all dealing with it in our own way, but sometimes it’s hard and morale can slump pretty low.

But on noon on Thursday is when things always begin looking up. Starting when we hear the beat of happy music coming from the community room and we know Nick is here, and it’s time for chair Zumba “plus.” I add the plus because there is a lot more going on here than just exercising. Nick is our instructor and friend, who not only puts together a killer workout with great music and moves, but he always fills the room with his positive vibe. His passion is to help people and to share what he knows about MS, which is a lot because Nick lives with MS and could easily be the prototype of how we should all deal and live with a chronic disease. He’s an excellent example of what we can do right now to help ourselves: being active, working with our doctors, good nutrition, and staying positive.

Nick is always encouraging us; his positive upbeat attitude is his “ace” and it is infectious. The time after Zumba has evolved into an unofficial social get-together every week. Nick is always there to help or just listen if you need someone to talk to. Just let me add that Nick drives 100 miles to come see us. Nick Marchesani is a force and I know we’re very lucky to have him share his “Multiple Strengths” with us.

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