I uvJrrY Poge 33
Valisatie' wears orange to Schmidtfamily, of Dover, cloclrwisefrom left, Sunny, 18-year-old Brandon, Brad and-13-year-oldyears after IVlr. Sc.hmidt was lor several Dover event Walk MS particip6ied i'n the esent ttltuttiple'sclerosis a*"rene"" and has nosed in 2007. The t""r, r.no*n ;the +cs a'ps poh Dawgs, has amassed more than 160 members since its inception.
ver family grateful for MS support ends, co-\Morkers ily rally around employee Jamie-Leigh Bissett State News
Tech sgt' Brad DovER - when from the U.S. Air retired in 2007, his wife said it was one the toughest days of his life. "I think it broke his hearb to take uniform off," said Sunny Schmidt, Dover. "IIe even still to this daY to find ways to <ieploy over to and Iraq) as a civilian try and help. He is military. It's in blood he is." - it's who Mr. Schmidt was forced to retire his career in the mititarY after diagnosed with multiPle sclea debilitating disease where the immune syster4 eats awaY at protective layer ofthe nerves and
'The man I'm going to marrY' Mrs. Schmidt said her husband Mr. and Mrs. Schmidt were born can still perform many day-to-day and raised in Illinois and began datactivities like work he is employed ing shorbly after high school when at Dover Air Force Base in the aerial they worked at a local TGI FridaY's port as a civilian together. - drive and most restaurant househotrd chores. But some daYs Mrs. Schmidt said she remembers can be a real struggle. the minute she decided to marry her "My husband looks fine, but husband after he drove more than an he doesn't feel flne," she said. "He hour each day to visit her in the hosdoesnt look sick until he gets uP in pital after her appendix ruPtured. "I thought, 'I'm going to marry the middle of the nlght and can't go guy,"'shetaid. that i to the bathroom because his legs affects the brain and sPinal cord.
buckle." Mrs. Schmidt said her husband's medication, Tlrsabri, has done wonders for his MS, esPeciallY after his disease progressed so quickly upon diagnosis. But every day is a flght for the once "high-stru4g" man. "Fatigue is ahuge one forhim, and his legs hurb a lot too. lle used to be so high-strung. Hers more like a normal person now," Mrs. Schmidt said.
The Schmidts have been married for 15 years and were transferred to Dover in June 2003. Their son, Brandon, is a senior at Caesar Rodney High School, and their daughter, Valisatie, 13, is an eighth-grader at Fred Fifer III Middle Schoolin Camden. . Mrs. Schmidt said it was in 2005, after her husband returned from his first deployrnent to Iraq, that his MS See Schmidt
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Sehmidt Continued From Page 33 symptoms began to come to light. "When he came back, he had these really bad headaches and weird sSrmptoms, but we just thought it was him getting reacclimated to being back stateside," she said. ,,Then it all seemed to be OK and we didn,t think much about it. "Fast forward to 2007. He was again deployed to Iraq, came back, and his left arm started going numb. It kept progressing over the days, so we went to the doctors." Mrs. Schmidt said unlike many MS patients, who can go through a series oftests before an official diagnosis can be made, doctors knew immediately that her husband had the disease.
"He had so many of the syrnptoms the doctors said there was no way it was not MS," she said. Mrs. Schmidt said the disease itself progressed quickly, but it took her husband some time to come to terms with it. "He was in denial. He didn't want to admit he had MS, so he would do everybhing like he normally would. It didn't work out for him," she said. Mrs. Schmidt said at first her kids were frightened that they would lose their father, but have since learned to take MS in stride. "They are so well-balanced that it doesn't affect them much. They know how to live with it day-to-day," she said. "And I've never had to ask them for anybhing. They just do it. They are super, awesome kids." As for her, Mrs. Schmidt said it took her'some time to get used to the idea too. 'At first I was like a mother hen tryrng to make sure he took his meds," she said. "But then he said, 'you,re nagging me,' and it put a strain on our relationship. We eventually did go through counseling through the MS Society, which helped immensely. trNIrlA1:trI\iltrNIT
They showed us that we were nor. mal and that this happens. you just have to take it one day at a time.,, Once the Schmidts adjusted to the disease and got their lives .,back on a stable track" they decided it was time to give back to the MS Society, which had helped them so much a-fter diagnosis.
436 APS Port Dawgs On Saturday, the family, along with a team of more than 140 family members, co-workers and friends, parbicipated in the Walk MS Dover
and have been doing so for the last three years. "We're really, really luclry to have such a great support system," Mrs.
Schmidt said about the 436 ApS Port Dawgs. "We have a large group of great people in our lives who are always wanting to be involved in the community." Mr. and Mrs. Schmidt and their two kids also form a more intimate family team each year and parbicipate in the MS walk in Wilmington on Thanksgiving. Mrs. Schmidt said her goal for Saturday's walk was to raise $8,000, but more than anybhing, she hoped to raise awareness. "It makes me feel like I,m doing something not only for my husband, but for everybody who has MS," she said. "This is out there. Anybody can get it. So if we can find a cure for one person with MS, we can find a cure for everyone." As for her own family, Mrs. Schmidt said they plan to continue spreading the word for as long as possible and live each day as if there is no tomorrow.
"We're not the type to sit and say 'boo-hoo' and feel sorry for ourselves. We're going to live each day to the fuIlest and hope we get another
one," she said. Staff writer Jamie-Leigh Bissett canbe reached at 241-9250 or j lhu g h e s Cq new
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