Sometimes you come across a person who simply amazes you. No matter what challenges this person faces, she confronts them with courage. For the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Hampton Roads Chapter, this person is Buddy Hayes: a person with multiple sclerosis, Miss Wheel Chair Virginia 2007, Challenged Athlete and Army Veteran.

Between 1977 and 1979, Hayes served in the Women’s Army Corp, which was eventually incorporated into the United States Army. Buddy was one of the first women to attend 62J Heavy Equipment School. As a heavy equipment operator, she performed drill and blast work in a rock quarry. She is a member of Paralyzed Veterans of America as well as Disabled American Veterans and receives medical treatment at the VA medical facility in Hampton, Virginia.

After her career with the Army, Hayes became a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist. For 15 years, she worked with children and adults with disabilities and later taught special education classes to preschool students.

Shortly after retiring in 2003, Buddy was diagnosed with MS- a disease that interrupts the flow of information from the brain to the body and stops people from moving. Every hour in the United States, someone is newly diagnosed with MS, an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with more than twice as many women as men contracting the disease. MS affects more than 2,600 people in Hampton Roads, 400,000 in the U.S., and 2.5 million worldwide.

Although she uses a wheelchair for mobility, she refuses to slow down. Participating in several charity sports events, from wheelchair racing to skiing, Buddy was the first person ever with MS to do the MS Challenge Walk- 3-days and 50-miles- in a manual wheelchair. Accompanied by her canine companion, Ellie, Buddy crossed the finish line.

In November 2005, Buddy was awarded the MS Leaders in Hope Award. Biogen Idec and Elan designed the award in association with the National MS Society and MS World to recognize people with MS and caregivers who have responded to managing the challenges of MS in ways that uniquely inspire others. She created a journal that included schedules, directions, contacts, etc. to help her with the cognitive challenges she faces with MS.

To help raise MS Awareness, Buddy entered the 2007 Ms. Wheelchair Virginia contest and won! This organization’s mission is to educate and advocate for individuals with physical disabilities in order to influence attitudinal, architectural, and social change for all Virginians. As Ms. Wheelchair Virginia, Hayes makes special appearances and motivational speaking engagements. Buddy is an amazing role model to anyone who has ever faced challenges. According to Buddy, “I may have MS, but MS don’t have me!”

Remember the National MS Society (CFC #11409) when it’s time designate your contributions during the 2007 Fall Combined Federal Campaign. With the help of people like you, the National MS Society addresses the challenges of each person whose life is affected by MS and helps them stay connected to the great big moving world. Studies show that early and ongoing treatment with an FDA-approved therapy can reduce future disease activity and improve quality of life for many people with multiple sclerosis. Talk to your health care professional and contact the National MS Society at www.fightms.com or 757-490-9627 to learn about ways to help manage multiple sclerosis and about current research that may one day reveal a cure.

CFC #11409