Recent Encounters : Sharon Roll

Living With MS

Dear Jackie,

My MS story is probably different, but could be, very similar to yours. It reared its ugly face back in ’79 when our children were young. We realized early on, that MS is a family disease because it affects not only the person that has it, but every member of the family no matter what their ages.

During the earlier years of my diagnosis I did not take a proactive roll. It was all so new to me, and just the thought … that I had been given a diagnosis of MS was all that I could handle at the time.

As a child, I grew up with a Mother that was very philanthropic oriented. She joined a service-leadership organization called Epsilon Sigma Alpha International. Through my growing up years, I watched and remembered being involved in many of those projects that she and her ESA sisters would be putting on to raise money for those less fortunate. Little did I know that Mother was “setting the tone” for what was yet to come in my future.

In 1989, my husband and I moved to another area and I started going to a MS Support Group where I met some wonderful people. About a year later, I took some friends from the MS group to a St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital fundraiser being sponsored by a couple of ESA Chapters. Following the event, I decided that if I could get enough people interested in another ESA Chapter, I would start a new one. I wanted to share this wonderful organization with those that were affected by MS or by the adoption triad. Myself and another gal from the MS Support Group, started a chapter called Sigma Chi…named in honor of my brother, who died a few years earlier from colon cancer. Just a couple of months later, Sigma Chi was involved in their first MS Walk and have been doing it every year since.

Two years later, I came out of an event to see four of my ESA/MS Sisters discussing MS. It was as if a light came on for me that this discussion needed to continue. I went to them and asked if they would be interested in getting together once a month for lunch and they were all for it.

I called our little group of 5, The MS Lunch Bunch (MSLB). I will never forget that first luncheon…as there were only two of us. I was beginning to think it was only me and had doubts as to whether it was a good idea or not. Thankfully my friend finally arrived. From a very humble two attendees, the MS Lunch Bunch has now grown to 248 on its luncheon roster. Every month the attendance varies and continues to grow. And we have grown in more ways than one. Our bunch has expanded to include men and we have now become the core group of the Riverhills MS Center’s volunteer work for its patient and family educational programs.

And after the luncheon group had become such an inspiration to all, a couple of the attendees returned to the work force and were no longer able to attend the luncheons. One of the gals approached me in regards to starting a dinner group and thus the MS Dinner Night Group was formed. We had our first dinner in January of 2004. If all goes as planned, there will be a MS Social Club starting up in ’05.

After a couple years of luncheons and getting to know each other better, the MSLB moved on to a new level and has become very philanthropic oriented. This year, we helped to raise $5,800 for the NMSS. With the cooperation of the Kroger Stores in our local area, we stood in front of them collecting money from the customers as they would either enter or leave the stores following their shopping.

In addition to that, we adopted 3 MS needy families for the ’04 Christmas/Holiday Season. Money and gift cards were collected with an end result of a “Very Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday Season” for these special MS women and their families who otherwise, may not have had a Christmas at all.

Where does the MS Lunch Bunch go from here? A dream would be that this Lunch Bunch be only the beginning of MS Lunch Bunch Groups all over the country. One of the biggest contributions to our great success as a group is because of the wonderful sponsorships of our MS pharmaceutical companies: Berlex, Biogen,Teva and Serono Pfizer, as well as, Proscan Imaging and Medtronic. The word has gotten around and now, we not only have women coming from Ohio, but those traveling from Kentucky and Indiana. This tells me that a group such as this was not only needed, but welcomed with arms.

What does it take to start a Lunch Bunch? Getting involved in our MS community and wanting to make a conscious effort with the end result being a positive difference. I once heard the saying “It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich.” I hope I am on my way to being a millionaire because there is nothing that makes me happier than doing for others.

MS Love & Hugs,
Sharon Roll
MSLB Founder

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