November 09, 2005 16:00 ET

The National MS Society, Biogen Idec, Elan, and MSWorld Recognize MS Leaders of Hope(SM) Award Winners

ATLANTA--(CCNMatthews - Nov 9, 2005) -

Seven Winners Honored at the National MS Society Conference in Atlanta, Georgia

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Biogen Idec, (NASDAQ: BIIB), Elan Corporation, plc (NYSE: ELN) and MSWorld® announced today the winners of the MS Leaders of Hope award, which recognizes people with multiple sclerosis (MS) and their caregivers who have demonstrated ways of managing the challenges of their disease that uniquely inspire others.

This year, over 2,000 entries were submitted from the United States and Canada. Entries were submitted in seven categories representing areas of life that are often challenged by MS: mobility, relationship, time management, employment/workplace, memory, caregiver, and youth. Nearly 29,000 votes were cast for 21 finalists over a one-month period. The seven winners received their awards today, including a $1,000 cash prize, at the National MS Society Annual Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

"We would like to thank all those who submitted their inspiring stories and creative solutions to the MS Leaders of Hope awards. The MS community continues to amaze us with its passion, spirit and eagerness to share ways to improve the lives of others," said Joyce Nelson, president and chief executive officer, National MS Society.

The following winners' stories can be found on

-- Mobility - Sarah Hunter, South Jordan, UT: At age 16, Sarah, an avid basketball player and fan, was diagnosed with MS. She had such difficulty walking that she told her team she was going to quit basketball. At her team's urging, Sarah resolved to continue to play. Her senior year, she made the team and even played in a few games. She became an inspiration to her teammates and others.

-- Relationship - Jennifer Leone, Fresno, CA: To give her friends and family a sense of some of the physical limitations of a person with MS, she hosted a party where all attendees had to bind their feet together with rope, put five-to-10-pound weights on their arms, wrap elastic bands around their fingers, and then perform simple tasks such as buttoning a shirt or writing a note. For many of her friends it was the first time they truly understood what it was like to live with MS.

-- Time Management - Donna Goldman, Buffalo, IL: Juggling a busy schedule of family and work proved to be a challenge for Donna, and her MS made it difficult for her to remember to bring many things she would need throughout the day. To help remedy this, Donna began to use her car as an extension of her home, keeping coupons, gift certificates, an extra change of clothing, bottled water and snacks in a backpack in the trunk. This helped her prepare for many MS-related challenges and manage her time more effectively.

-- Employment/Workplace - Joy Gravely, Greenwood, SC: One year after her diagnosis, Joy found that she had to give up what she had loved doing for 22 years - teaching. She began tutoring local children at home, and subsequently opened Hopewood Academy for 25 students, which increased to 90 over three years. Joy and her staff ensured that students not only learned about core subjects but also about having special needs such as MS.

-- Memory - Buddy Hayes, Chesapeake, VA: Because of her MS, Buddy had problems remembering directions when driving to doctors' appointments or running errands. In order to solve the problem, she bought a small photo album, printed directions in large font, along with phone numbers, and organized them in alphabetical order. Buddy's "How Do I Get There?" book has made trips easier for her and for others she knows.

-- Caregiving - Jody Roberts, San Diego, CA: Before Jody went to college, she wanted to find a way to keep her father's memory strong and his outlook positive rather than focused on the challenges of his MS. She decided to buy a personalized page-a-day calendar and write a favorite memory or dream of the two of them. The calendar turned out to be her father's most prized possession. Her dad passed away two weeks before she started her senior year in college, however, Jody has remained active in the MS community, including participating in numerous fundraising activities the last five years.

-- Youth - Brandhi Russo, West Chester, OH: Brandhi was diagnosed with MS at the age of 13, and, as a result, faced a unique set of challenges. Brandhi started the MSKidsConnection, which promotes a better understanding of pediatric MS and provides support and resources to children and families. They host seminars at local schools, including the first regional College and Career Day for young MS patients, featuring successful professionals with MS.

"The MS Leaders of Hope winners have demonstrated exemplary courage and innovation in dealing with the challenges that come with living with this difficult disease. They, and many others, inspire us at Biogen Idec to extend our leadership in providing support and developing new therapies that can help serve the significant unmet need that exists for people with MS," said James C. Mullen, chief executive officer, Biogen Idec.

"The MS Leaders of Hope program has successfully showcased the lives of many inspirational individuals in the MS community. Patients helping patients is what MSWorld is all about, and these individuals will help and inspire so many to improve the quality of their lives." said Kathleen Wilson MA, MFA, president and founder of MSWorld. "The categories of this competition reflect the complexity of the challenges facing people with MS. Creativity is definitely part of the solution when it comes to managing each day with multiple sclerosis."

"Elan is proud to be a part of the MS Leaders of Hope. The strength and spirit of these winners, and of all MS patients around the world, continues to motivate us as we work to make a positive difference in the lives of these patients and their loved ones," said Kelly Martin, president and chief executive officer, Elan.

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, unpredictable disease of the central nervous system that, according to the National MS Society, affects approximately 400,000 people in the United States and approximately 2.5 million people worldwide. It is a disease typically of young adults, mostly women, with onset typically between 20 and 50 years of age. Each hour someone is newly diagnosed. MS symptoms may include vision problems, loss of balance, numbness, difficulty walking and even complete paralysis.

About The National MS Society

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society, founded in 1946, supports more MS research, offers more services to people with MS, provides more professional education programs, and advances more MS advocacy efforts than any other MS organization in the world.

About Biogen Idec

Biogen Idec creates new standards of care in oncology, neurology and immunology. As a global leader in the development, manufacturing, and commercialization of novel therapies, Biogen Idec transforms scientific discoveries into advances in human healthcare. For product labeling, press releases and additional information about the company, please visit

About Elan

Elan Corporation, plc is a neuroscience-based biotechnology company committed to making a difference in the lives of patients and their families by dedicating itself to bringing innovations in science to fill significant unmet medical needs that continue to exist around the world. Elan shares trade on the New York, London and Dublin Stock Exchanges. For additional information about the company, please visit

About MSWorld

Inspired by Christopher Reeve nine years ago, MSWorld began with a single chat room and has evolved into a comprehensive on-line self-help site for everyone coping with MS. All of the staff at MSWorld are diagnosed with MS and volunteer their time and talents to help others. MSWorld is committed to helping people attain an unparalleled level of independence by providing a safe place on-line to meet for support and to gather information. "Our Motto at MSWorld is Wellness is a State of Mind. When you are well within your mind your life has its greatest potential," Kathleen Wilson MA, MFA, President & Founder,

Contact Information

  • National Multiple Sclerosis Society
    Arney Rosenblat
    Ph: 212 476 0436
    Elan Corporation, plc
    Davia Temin
    Ph: (212) 407-5740
    Kathleen Wilson
    Ph: 541 687 5221
    Biogen Idec
    Amy Brockelman
    Ph: 617 914 6524