MSAA’s Improving Lives Benefit: Mission Honoree

The Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA) has a long tradition aFEM Puerto Ricond core belief in the importance of collaboration to best meet the needs of the MS community. One of our collaborations that has truly taken on a new significance during the COVID-19 pandemic has been with the wonderful MS community in Puerto Rico.

For those living in Puerto Rico, the challenges of COVID-19 have been made more complicated by the natural disasters that they have had to endure. Those living with MS in Puerto Rico are well served by Dr. Ángel Chinea, the medical director of the San Juan Multiple Sclerosis Center, and Lourdes Fernández Trujillo, the Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Multiple Sclerosis Foundation (FEM). MSAA is proud to recognize Dr. Chinea, Ms. Fernández Trujillo, and the MS community in Puerto Rico as the 2021 Mission Honoree at our first virtual Improving Lives Benefit on May 13, 2021.

In early 2000, Dr. Chinea established the first MS center in Puerto Rico and founded FEM to help meet the needs of those living with MS on the island. Dr. Chinea serves as the Medical Director for FEM, working with Ms. Fernández Trujillo to support the MS community. While MSAA has long partnered with Dr. Chinea and Ms. Fernández Trujillo on providing educational programming and resources to those living with MS in Puerto Rico, our collaboration has only deepened over the past year.

The COVID-19 pandemic has heavily impacted people across the United States and in Puerto Rico. In early January 2020, just prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, the citizens of Puerto Rico were rebuilding their lives while recovering from catastrophic earthquakes, leaving many people on parts of the island without power and water. To better support the ongoing efforts of Dr. Chinea and FEM, and meet the increasing needs of the MS community in Puerto Rico, MSAA streamlined the delivery of cooling vests, providing relief from the often debilitating effects of heat.

In partnership with Ms. Fernández Trujillo and Dr. Chinea, MSAA was able to serve more than 200 people living with MS through our Cooling Equipment program. FEM, through the leadership of Ms. Fernández Trujillo, worked to ensure that all who needed cooling vests received them, even going so far as to hand deliver shipments to people who were unable to travel to FEM and pick up the vests themselves.

“It is with immense pleasure that we receive this year’s Mission Honoree recognition. I am truly humbled. It is an honor to accept such a distinguished award that attests to the enormous efforts we have always placed into achieving the wellbeing of our patients, as in our eyes, they will always come first,” says Ms. Lourdes Fernández Trujillo, Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Multiple Sclerosis Foundation

Our partnership and work with Dr. Chinea, Ms. Fernández Trujillo, and FEM exemplifies the importance of collaboration in our shared mission of meeting the needs of the MS community. We are proud to honor their dedication and the resiliency of the MS community in Puerto Rico at MSAA’s Improving Lives Benefit this year.

Here is what one of our clients in Puerto Rico had to say about MSAA’s Cooling program:
“Hi!! I received the cooling products. I’m thankful for these. They will be used, believe me. The cooling products will make my life easier and tolerate our beautiful weather in Puerto Rico. As an MS patient, I have postponed my beloved chore of gardening because of exposure to heat. I think I’ll not only be able to garden but will enjoy the outdoors as I used to. Thanks again!!”

– M.G., Puerto Rico