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M o v in g T o w a r d A W o r l d F ree o f M S WINTER 2013

Antonio Sabato Jr. Adds

Muscle to MS Movement In this issue:

Dallas On The Move

Kritser’s Legacy

Chalk the Walk

If You or Someone You Know Has MS Studies show that early and ongoing treatment with an FDA-approved therapy can

The official magazine of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society: South Central Arkansas • Louisiana • New Mexico • Oklahoma • Texas


reduce future disease activity

Board of Trustees Chairman Brad Robbins

and improve quality of life for

Houston, TEXAS

many people with multiple sclerosis. Talk to your health care professional or contact the National MS Society at or 1-800-344-4867 to learn about ways to help manage multiple sclerosis and about current research that may one day reveal a cure.

Board of Trustees Chairman Elect ERNEST JOHNSON Houston, TEXAS

Treasurer DON McCormack MIDLAND, TEXAS


Regional Executive Vice President Mark Neagli MSConnection Editor James Black © 2013 National Multiple Sclerosis Society: South Central

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society does not endorse products, services or manufacturers. Such names appear here solely because they are considered valuable information. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society assumes no liability for the use of contents of any product or service mentioned.



Information provided by the Society is based upon professional advice, published experience and expert opinion. Information provided in response to questions does not constitute therapeutic recommendations or prescriptions. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society recommends that all questions and information be discussed with a personal physician. We mobilize people and resources to drive research for a cure and to address the challenges of everyone affected by MS.

Winter 2013 Volume 7 • Issue 1

Application Deadline is Jan. 15 for Society’s 2013 Scholarship Program The National MS Society offers a scholarship program for students with multiple sclerosis or who have a parent with MS. Applicants must plan to attend an accredited post-secondary school for the first time and to take at least six credit hours per semester leading to a degree, license or certificate. Each recipient is selected based on financial need, academic performance, compelling personal or family circumstances, and an applicant’s essay on the impact of MS on his or her life.

Awards range from $1,000 to $3,000 for one year. A small number of four-year awards are also offered. Scholarship applications for 2013 are available on the Society’s website. There is no application fee for Society scholarships. Completed applications and supporting materials must be submitted by Jan. 15, 2013. For guidelines and applications, please visit or call the Society at 1-800-344-4867.

Dallas Gets On the Move with Sold-Out Benefit


allas’ On the Move Luncheon in November drew more than 500 supporters. The sold-out benefit at the Ritz-Carlton raised more than $170,000 to support the National MS Society’s research and services. The 2012 luncheon, sponsored by Gold Metal Recyclers, featured guest speaker and MS Ambassador Tyler Campbell, son of legendary football player Earl Campbell. Chairpersons for the Dallas event were Scott and Paula Burford. Honorary Chairpersons were Walker and Jean Baterman. On the Move is a nationwide program created to raise funds and awareness for multiple sclerosis. Each year, On the Move Luncheons bring men and women together to encourage people to give and support family members, friends and colleagues whose lives are touched by MS.

Scott Burford, Jean Baterman, Walker Baterman, Tyler Campbell and Paula Burford

Moving Toward A World Free of MS



Texan Finishes Six-Month Hike to Raise MS Awareness By April Brownlee


hen Tim Cook set out on a 2,185-mile journey in March to hike the fabled Appalachian Trail, he had no idea just how epic his adventure would be. Cook’s plan was to conquer his own personal challenge of hiking the trail while raising money in honor of his wife, Cathy, who lives with MS. The Canyon, Texas resident knew it would be tough, both physically and mentally. He knew it could be lonely. But what he didn’t count on was just how much he would learn about people. Said Tim, “It was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done physically, emotionally, financially, the works. It was really tough. I prepared myself as much as I could, but I don’t think I realized how mentally and emotionally challenging it would be. But, it was also probably the most rewarding experience I probably ever will have. I learned so much about myself and about things that are important.” After six months, Tim’s journey reached an end in September. He was 600 miles short of hiking the entire length of the trail. His 1,585-mile trek raised $11,000 for the National MS Society through the Society’s Do-ItYourself online fundraising tool, and it taught Tim a lot about life and people. “I think what made the trail for me was the people. It reconfirmed that no matter what our differences, our conflicts and our problems, we’re a nation of really good people. It was just amazing,” he said. For Tim, it was the adventure of a lifetime, but it’s not the end.


MSConnection • WINTER 2013

“It’s a passion of ours,” Tim said. “It’s great we’ve been able to do this, but it’s just a start. I got to talk to lots of people about why I was doing this and about MS. I see us being involved in whatever way we can to continue to get that message out.”

April Brownlee is the Senior Development Manager in the Society’s Amarillo office. She can be reached at april.

Mattress Firm Helps Provide Good Night’s Rest for Person in Need by Stacy Smith

Society employees recently teamed up with a generous company to make one woman’s house a real home. After spending days in an unfamiliar hospital, most people look forward to the basic things that make their home a welcoming place: their couch where they can sit and rest, their favorite meal to cook, or their own comfortable bed. For one South Central resident with MS, continuing her recuperation at home on her worn 15-year-old mattress was far from a comfortable prospect. Within the last few months, she experienced a relapse that worsened her MS symptoms and placed her in the hospital. After being released, the woman

went home for much-needed rest, though she was unable to replace her uncomfortable, disintegrating mattress due to tight finances. After Society staff members told the woman’s story to Mattress Firm representatives, the company agreed to help by donating a new bed equipped with rails, along with a new bed for her daughter. Through dedication and teamwork, Mattress Firm and Society employees ensured one family would have a good night’s rest.

Stacy Smith is the volunteer coordinator in the Society’s Tulsa, Okla. office.

We want to hear from YOU! What’s on your mind when it comes to MS? We want and appreciate your feedback, ideas, stories and letters to share. You know you’ve got something to say, so here’s your chance. Contact MSConnection Editor James Black via email at



Moving Toward A World Free of MS



Meet Our Volunteer Hall of Fame Inductees Each year, local volunteers are nominated to receive national recognition for their outstanding service to the National MS Society. Congratulations to the following South Central volunteers inducted into the Society’s Volunteer Hall of Fame for 2012. Advocacy Champion: Patti Barker Since daughter Channing’s MS diagnosis at the age of 16 in 2006, Patti has been a driving force of the Society’s South Central MS movement. Patti chairs the Oklahoma Government Relations Committee; she also serves on the Oklahoma Leadership Council and the South Central Board of Trustees. As she has told legislators, “With your support, one day MS will equal ‘Mystery Solved.’ ” Funding the Mission Champion: Gerald Merfish Gerald Merfish, owner of Merfish Pipe & Supply, has been active with the Society since 2000 and is the fifth-highest-cumulative fundraiser for South Central Bike MS events. For nine years, he has been a member of the Board of Trustees, where he has served as Board Secretary and Chairman of the Finance Committee. He is credited with forming a budget panel to review allocation of funds for programs and services.


MSConnection • WINTER 2013

Health Professionals Champion: Dr. Amy Gutierrez Dr. Amy Gutierrez became involved with the Society nine years ago and remains actively engaged in numerous areas of the MS mission. She has served on the South Central Board of Trustees and Leadership Council since 2008, and the Clinical Advisory Committee since 2004. She speaks at numerous programs – such as Annual Meetings, North American Education Programs and Golden Circle Events – and supports the Society’s advocacy efforts. Additionally, Dr. Gutierrez rides in the annual Bike MS: Louisiana and participates in Walk MS: New Orleans. Programs and Services Champion: Jinjer LeVan In 2009, Jinjer LeVan was awarded the Kanaly Trust Foundation MS Entrepreneur Grant to develop an MS Symptom Experience Kit, helping educate the public about living with multiple sclerosis. She is an MS Ambassador, guest speaker at Self-Help Groups, state advocate, MS Awareness Week Public Speaker, and a Walk MS Team Captain and committee member. Jinjer is one of approximately 10 people in the United States with both MS and Leiber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy.


Kritser’s Legacy Lives On Through Financial Assistance by April Brownlee


hen Anna Belle Kritser passed away in 2008, she left a legacy that will last a lifetime and beyond. Anna Belle, who lived with multiple sclerosis for most of her adult life, spent a great deal of time thinking about how she would give back after her death. Since its establishment in 2009, the Anna Belle Kritser II Foundation has given $40,000 to the National MS Society’s office in Amarillo to support direct financial assistance. It was important to Anna Belle to give funding to organizations that help people; specifically, organizations that work with persons with disabilities or educational facilities. “She and I worked on it together to boil it down to what she wanted to do. She was probably the most generous woman in our family or that I’ve ever met in my life,” said David Kritser, the foundation’s administrator. Kassie Robertson of Dalhart is one of those beneficiaries. When an exacerbation landed Kassie

in the hospital for more than a week in September, the Society’s Direct Financial Assistance Program and funding from the Kritser Foundation helped Kassie’s family make ends meet. “We live 75 miles from Amarillo. With the gas to and from the hospital, and meals, we didn’t know how we would come up with the money for our bills. It was a huge load taken off me and my family,” said Kassie. That is exactly what Anna Belle intended the foundation to do. “Everybody always thought Anna Belle had the greatest attitude and that’s how people remember her,” said David. “She would always find that one good thing in people.”

April Brownlee is the Senior Development Manager in the Society’s Amarillo office. She can be reached at

Moving Toward A World Free of MS



k l a h C theWalk for MS Fine Arts Students


MSConnection • WINTER 2013

Students from Marshall Academy of Fine Arts in Houston competed in the National MS Society’s 3rd Annual Chalk the Walk for MS contest in November. Using the sidewalk as their canvas, nearly 70 sixth, seventh and eighth graders applied their vivid imaginations and brightlycolored chalk to illustrate the theme, “MS Draws Us Together.”


he friendly competition among students helped raise awareness of multiple sclerosis, timed to coincide with the Houston area’s fall Walk MS events, presented by KBR. Students were educated beforehand about the effects of MS, its impact on everyone living with the disease, and the Society’s

efforts to drive research and services to help more than 400,000 Americans with multiple sclerosis. Artwork created by the 14 student teams was evaluated by judges Lily Jang, KHOU-TV Channel 11 Morning News Anchor; Tyler Rudick, CultureMap arts and entertainment writer; and Joy Sewing, lifestyle editor at the Houston Chronicle. The panel selected the top three drawings based on creativity, craft and theme. Third place was awarded to the North Side Friends team, featuring Abigail Garcia, Yuliza Lara and Angelina Sosa. Second place went to the Last Kings team of Leslie Fraire, Jose Rios, Hunter Valle, Amir Villanueva and Cristian Villanueva. For the second year in a row, the top prize was awarded to the Better Than That Team of eighth graders Marisol Calderon, Yulissa Guzman, Carlos Robles, Raul Santoyo and Jacob Sepulveda. The team received a $150 gift card to Texas Art Supply. All participating students received Society T-shirts and enjoyed a celebratory pizza and cupcake party.

Moving Toward A World Free of MS



Antonio Sabato Jr. Adds

Muscle to MS Movement

Photos by Brandi Moore 10

MSConnection • WINTER 2013


ctor and model Antonio Sabato Jr. helped pump up MS awareness during a recent visit to Tulsa, Okla. An avid fitness enthusiast, the star of TV shows such as “General Hospital” and “The Bold and the Beautiful” came to Tulsa in October to open his first weight loss center and fitness gym called iNutrition. Because he has a friend with MS, Antonio expressed an interest in getting involved with the National MS Society’s mission. To show his support, he and Brandi Moore, the Society’s South Central Regional Communications and PR Manager, appeared on Tulsa’s Channel 8 “Good Day Tulsa” program. Antonio and Brandi discussed multiple sclerosis, the Society and the benefits of a healthy lifestyle in managing MS symptoms.

Brandi Moore and Antonio on “Good Day Tulsa”

Moving Toward A World Free of MS


Mason, Antonio and Aimie

Later, Antonio met with Aimie Dwyer and Mason Hoffman, two young Oklahomans who shared their experiences about living with the daily challenges of multiple sclerosis. Antonio’s many screen credits include appearances on the TV shows “NCIS,” “Bones,” “Hot in Cleveland,” “CSI:NY,” “Rizzoli & Isles,” “Charmed” and “Melrose Place,” as well as the big-screen films “The Big Hit” and “The Three Stooges.” He is also the author of “No Excuses: Workout for Life.” Mason and Antonio discussed the importance of exercise in countering the effects of multiple sclerosis.


MSConnection • WINTER 2013

2013 TEXAS PUBLIC POLICY CONFERENCE National Multiple Sclerosis Society February 27, 2013 ÂŤ Austin, Texas

Make a Connection. Make a Difference. Join Texans Impacted by MS at the Capitol! You are invited to make a difference in the lives of people living with multiple sclerosis by sharing your story with your state legislators at the 2013 Texas Public Policy Conference. This one-day event held at the Capitol is a great way to educate lawmakers about the importance of supporting legislation that can make a difference in the lives of Texans affected by MS.

MS Activists and National MS Society staff will be your partners every step of the way!

Registration is now open! Visit to learn more, or contact Simone Nichols-Segers at 512-340-2707 or One voice connecting with one legislator can make a huge difference for thousands of Texans living with chronic illness.

Moving Toward A World Free of MS



Research Round-Up FDA Approves Oral Drug for MS In September, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved teriflunomide once-daily pills to treat relapsing forms of MS. This is the second oral diseasemodifying therapy approved for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. “We are greatly encouraged to see a new oral therapeutic option become available to people living with MS,” said Bruce A. Cohen, M.D., Professor, Davee Department of Neurology and Clinical Neurosciences at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, and incoming Chair of the National MS Society’s National Medical Advisory Committee. “As with any new therapy, the long-term safety of Aubagio will need to be carefully monitored.” Dr. Timothy Coetzee, Chief Research Officer at the Society said, “With the collaborative research underway around the world today, this is an extremely hopeful time for anyone who is diagnosed with MS.” Weight Training Improves Walking and Quality of Life for Women with MS Women participating in a small study of progressive resistance weight training improved significantly in walking, and reported improvements in quality of


MSConnection • WINTER 2013

life as well. The study, funded by the National MS Society, used standard measures to evaluate the effects of the program, along with in-depth interviews of the participants to determine the full effects on quality of life. During the training period, participants performed three supervised exercise sessions per week in a university-based fitness center using conventional weight-lifting machines. Trainers had previous experience working with people with MS. Training protocols were individualized to meet differences in fitness and to accommodate day-to-day variability in fatigue. Walking performance improved by more than 13 percent. All participants reported enhanced muscle endurance or delayed muscle fatigue, as well as strength. These experiences impacted performance of a variety of daily life tasks. “I have not used any of those electrical carts in any of the big stores in a long time now,” said one participant. Another noted, “Since I’ve been doing this, I’ve been having stuff [to do] every single day of the week. In the past, I would do something one day and then rest the next day.” Six participants reported improved physical capabilities that impacted daily tasks such as yard work, shopping and chores around the house. Seven perceived a social impact, including making new

friends, camaraderie with the other participants and research staff, and the development of a support network. Six claimed they had positive emotional responses due to the exercise program that included pride of accomplishment and a better mood. “I smile a lot more and that’s good,” noted one woman.

before it becomes a tool that can benefit treatment decisions made by people with MS and their health care providers.

Testosterone Prevents Nerve Impairments in MS Study

A new $100,000 annual cash prize has been established to recognize scientists whose inventive work is propelling measurable MS research progress. The Barancik Prize for Innovation in MS Research recognizes an exceptional scientist or team whose work in MS research has demonstrated outstanding innovation and originality. The prize is made possible by the generosity of the Charles and Margery Barancik SO Foundation, and is administered through the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. “We are proud to steward the new Barancik Prize, the largest ever established to spur progress toward stopping MS, restoring function and ending MS forever,” said Cyndi Zagieboylo, President and CEO of the National MS Society. “This is the latest in a long history of generous support for MS research provided by Charles and Margery Barancik, and it reflects their wish to speed this vital work.” The first prize will be given in May 2013. Nominations are accepted until Jan. 31, 2013. A selection committee comprised of leaders in science, medicine and MS advocacy will review nominees for their exceptional innovation and originality, impact and potential of the research to lead to pathways for the treatment and cure for MS, and accomplishments that merit recognition as a future leader in MS research.

Researchers funded by the Society have shown that the male sex hormone testosterone prevented or restored impairments in nerve impulse transmission in mice with EAE, an MS-like disease. The improvements specifically occurred in an area of the brain associated with cognitive function, lending evidence to the potential use of sex hormones to treat this MS symptom. This team is currently conducting clinical trials to determine whether estriol (another sex hormone, added on to standard therapies) improves disease activity and cognition in women with MS. Genes May Help Categorize Disease Course and Response to Therapy A team led by Philip L. De Jager, M.D., a Harry Weaver Scholar of the National MS Society from Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, has discovered that differences in active genes – detectable in blood samples – have the potential to be used to group people with MS into categories that predict disease course and response to therapy. Further research is needed to refine this approach

New Innovation Prize Created to Spur Research Progress

For more information on breakthrough research and clinical trials, visit the National MS Society online at and click on the “Research” tab. Moving Toward A World Free of MS


National Multiple Sclerosis Society South Central Chapter 8111 North Stadium Drive, Suite 100 Houston, Texas 77054

Lone Star: Winter 2013 MSConnection