Up Front: Recounting the Past, Looking to the Future

Photo of Gina Ross Murdoch
Gina Ross Murdoch

By Gina Ross Murdoch
MSAA President and CEO

For the past two issues of MSAA’s magazine, our “Up Front” column has been devoted to the growing challenges we have been experiencing as a nation, and worldwide. These challenges ranged from the COVID-19 pandemic surging out of control, along with the resulting loss of life, jobs, businesses, and vital food and supplies… to unspeakable racial injustice, devastating wildfires, and life-threatening weather conditions.

We continue to express our heartfelt gratitude to the healthcare community, emergency personnel, caring agencies, and volunteers who have all worked bravely and tirelessly to help heal our nation. While we continue to be challenged by these issues, some are showing positive signs – particularly with the approval of COVID-19 vaccines and tens of millions of individuals inoculated throughout the United States. But even as the herd immunity strengthens, businesses reopen, and people return to jobs, we cannot let our guard down. Yes, this is a time to acknowledge and celebrate each individual victory, but at the same time, we need to be aware, remain vigilant, and stay informed. At MSAA, our focus continues to be on providing innovative programs and unwavering support for the multiple sclerosis community. We remain fiercely committed to addressing health inequities as well as providing key educational information on topics including emotional and mental wellness.

Our hope for our readers, and the entire MS community – including people diagnosed with MS, care partners, family members, and medical professionals – is that their lives are moving ahead. We hope that people are able to look forward to the future once again. With the arrival of spring last month, we all can anticipate the renewal of the many things we value in our lives.

Where Do We Go from Here?
We may now want to ask, “Where do we go from here?” At MSAA, we have a number of encouraging programs and initiatives, either in progress or poised to launch.

One vital initiative to mention is our annual MS Awareness Month campaign, whose theme for 2021 was, “Improving Mental Health and Wellness.” This topic is particularly important given these challenging circumstances just discussed. And although March has passed, all of the information is still available. Our digital programs and resources from our MS Awareness Month activities have been archived on our MS Awareness Month website hub. Please refer to “Program Notes” for more information on these resources as well as upcoming programs.

Adding to the support that we are providing to the MS community is our cover story in this issue of The Motivator. This informative and inspiring article defines and explains the life-enhancing and life-extending benefits of having a clear Purpose in Life. Identifying and immersing yourself in an activity in which you are completely passionate about and find rewarding may provide great emotional and physical benefits, including a strengthened immune system and a healthier heart, lowered blood pressure, and more.

And finally, MSAA’s upcoming Virtual Improving Lives Benefit, “Together at Home,” takes place on Thursday, May 13th. Since this event is virtual, tickets are open to everyone nationwide! Our first-ever virtual gala, “Together at Home” will be hosted by MS advocate Tyler Campbell and will provide attendees with a dynamic and uplifting live program highlighting MSAA’s impact on the MS community.

This virtual event will feature inspiring stories highlighting our honorees, key insights into resources for the MS community, and a silent auction. We are pleased to recognize our corporate honoree – longstanding MSAA partner – Medscape as well as this year’s mission honorees, Ángel Chinea, MD, Medical Director of the San Juan Multiple Sclerosis Center; Lourdes Fernández Trujillo, Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Multiple Sclerosis Foundation; and the MS community in Puerto Rico. For more information, please see our Special Section on our Corporate Honoree and Mission Honoree. I hope to “see” everyone at our Virtual Improving Lives Benefit on May 13th!

Gina Ross Murdoch is a seasoned executive in non-profit management. Her career includes leadership positions with chapters of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as well as the American Diabetes Association. Earlier, she spent 14 years overseeing development activities at a large chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, leading explosive growth initiatives and ground-breaking strategic projects. An active member of the community, Ms. Murdoch has held several town positions and volunteers for her college alma mater, Drew University.