With the new year beginning, it is the perfect time to thank our many volunteers. Volunteerism is especially important to the Multiple System Atrophy Coalition. For over thirty years volunteers have worked tirelessly to build a nonprofit that truly meets the needs of those affected by MSA. Our volunteers take on many forms and each and every one is important to us. So, whether you are a board member, a patient or caregiver representative, a research or medical advisor, a volunteer blogger, bookkeeper, social media advocate, or conference helper, a grass roots fundraiser or an individual donor, please know how appreciated you are.
The Shy-Drager Syndrome Support Group was founded by volunteers in 1989. Its mission was to provide an annual support group meeting and to provide emotional support to patients and caregivers. From the beginning and including our current globally streamed multi-day conferences, our charity has relied on volunteers from the MSA community, doctors and health professionals to dedicate many hours to pull off informative and meaningful events. In 1999, after incorporating, the Support Group formed its first Board of Directors made up of volunteers from the community, health care providers and the pharmaceutical industry. Each year since, the volunteers sitting on the Board have dedicated substantial personal time to our mission of improving quality of life and building hope for those affected by multiple system atrophy.
Ten years ago, a small group of volunteers put to motion the concept of building The MSA Coalition. Expanding on the Shy-Drager Syndrome Support Group’s mission of providing emotional support and an annual patient/caregiver conference the mission was expanded to include not only emotional support and education, but also advocacy and research funding. To reflect the broader mission the name was changed to the Multiple System Atrophy Coalition. Now, in 2021, it is amazing to look back on the accomplishments achieved over the past decade. From hosting in person and globally streamed conferences to funding over 40 MSA seed grants in excess of $2 million the MSA Coalition has truly impacted thousands and thousands of people around the world.
As we move into the 2020s, especially with the troubling times our world has faced, two things cross my mind. First, the MSA Coalition has accomplished so much. Even during a pandemic, we held our conferences, funded research, hired full time staff including an Executive Director, and had a great year-end fundraising campaign. It’s always amazing what dedicated volunteers can accomplish. Second, The MSA Coalition is now positioned to make a greater impact over the decade to come. Our new Executive Director and her team are loaded with passion, excitement and skill to deliver the best-ever support and educational programs to those impacted by MSA. Our board members and volunteers are energized to focus their time on projects that suit their strengths and passions. Together, we will witness breakthroughs in MSA diagnostics and treatments, participate in outstanding educational events, and benefit from better informed healthcare providers. Ten years ago, hope was just a word. Today, it is building and must continue to grow.
In closing, thank you for your efforts in support of the MSA Coalition. MSA is a rare disease, but it has not diminished the dedication and passion brought to our cause. Without your help and support the charity that exists today would not be possible. We hope to see you volunteering your skills in 2021 and beyond.
With sincere appreciation,
Don Crouse, Vice Chair and Volunteer
The MSA Coalition