This year's MS Walk fundraising has begun and our walk is May 3 and we need your help.

I know that the economy is hitting everyone hard, non-profit organizations are especially hard hit and need our help more than ever. Without contributions from you, the people who have always supported our cause, so many people will not be able to get the help that they need, research will be affected and programs would be cut.

As you all know I, myself have been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) for the past seven years but have had MS for the past 11 years, this is also something that goes on too often, a diagnosis that takes too long allowing MS to progress. When MS doesn't get diagnosed early, treatment isn't introduced early enough, allowing progression and the probability of disability to possibly lead to needing home health aide assistance sooner than later.

I ask that you consider making your annual donation, any amount, whether large or small; takes us one step closer to our goal of keeping our Long Island families together by providing them the home health aide that might one day be needed...this is the program that my MS Walk is being dedicated to this year.

A donation is the thought behind the gift you are giving to help someone else, not so much the dollar amount behind that gift, so if it means that you might not have those couple of cups of coffee today, or maybe not buy something frivolous, but instead you'd be choosing to make a difference in someone's life by making a donation, know that you just took one giant step forward in joining the movement to help make a world free of Multiple Sclerosis as well as helping someone who is living with MS, live a better life.

The Catherine Caldarella Memorial Fund for Home Health Aide Assistance Program is named in memory of my friend Lisa Moore's mom who lost her battle to MS at the young age of 52; she was in a nursing home because she could not get homecare with a home health aide. Recently another one of my friend's mother lost her battle with MS as well, one you all know too well, she too, was living in a nursing home because of the same reason. Sadly this happens all but too often.

Having the ability to get home health aides when our insurance either doesn't pay for it, or they only allocate a certain amount of visits can mean the difference between keeping a loved one at home with their family or making the family make the difficult choice of having to place that loved one into long term care at a nursing facility. In August 2008, I held my first third party event in conjunction with Laurie and the Prana Shakti Yoga family; we raised enough money to create a new program within our chapter, that is now called "The Catherine Caldarella Memorial Fund for Home Health Aide Assistance Program." Monies donated to this program will help families here on Long Island receive assistance in receiving a home health aide when the need arises, hopefully delaying or preventing long term nursing facility admissions which break our families apart and inevitably our desire to fight lessens.

I am proud to say that 100 percent of this year's MS WALK funding will be donated and restricted to this program so that we can continue to help our families on Long Island stay together. Visit http://main.nationalmssociety.org/goto/lbfightsms_ and click on the "Donate to Lisa" tab to sponsor me at the 2009 MS Walk. Donations, payable to the National MS Society LI Chapter, to Lisa Zeankowski, Team Captain, _7 Picture Lane, Hicksville, NY 11801. Any amount is a small step towards helping to change someone's life today.

Lisa Zeankowski

MS Walk, Team Captain

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