Tis the season for fundraising luncheons in Dallas, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) celebrated its 10th recently at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Uptown. Called On the Move, the event combines the essentials: award presentations, keynote speakers, and heartfelt emotion for this important cause.
This year, NMSS recruited a father-daughter duo to serve as luncheon chairs: Dr. Philip Raskin and Robbin Raskin Solis. Solis suffers from MS herself, and her dad choked up a couple of times during his opening remarks.
Solis credited Dr. Elliot Frohman of UT Southwestern for helping her maintain a fruitful life, and Raskin echoed those sentiments of gratitude for the UTSW team. (He also is a professor there.) But these were his most impactful words. “The giving doesn’t end today,” he said, before becoming emotional.
After he regained his composure, he said, “The truth is we need your money, so give it,” and the audience laughed through their tears.
As guests dined on yam bisque and Moroccan-spiced chicken breast, Shannon Murray of Fox 4’s Good Day kept the program moving, performing her emcee duties excellently. Then speakers Jennifer and Dan Digmann took the stage to share what they call their “MS love story.”
She was diagnosed in 1997, and she suffers from second-progressive MS. His diagnosis came in 2000, and he has relapsing-remitting MS. The Michigan couple met at an NMSS event in 2002.
The two have devoted their lives to educating people about the disease and sharing their story. They have a blog and co-wrote a book called Despite MS, to Spite MS.
Dan admitted it took him hours to craft the perfect email to send to Jennifer on the day they met — he’s even a writer by profession — and obviously it did the trick. The two took turns speaking, as they detailed their journey together. They can, almost literally, complete each other’s sentences.
Tears welled up in everyone’s eyes again when Dan read the essay “Seeing Through the Woulds,” which Jennifer picked out especially for this day. From her wheelchair beside him, she beamed the whole time he read.
“Stop looking at me,” he told her, when he struggled to finish. It was precious.
That was a tough act to follow, but there were awards to be presented, including Company on the Move, for Kendra Scott, and Person on the Move, for Jamie Benn.
The Dallas Stars captain couldn’t be there (he was traveling with the team), but there was a reception for him earlier that week, during which he accepted his award in person. For the luncheon, Benn recorded a video, thanking everyone for the honor and encouraging attendees to give.
He challenged those listening to donate $50 each. To get it started, he pledged $5,000 himself. Benn chooses to support this organization because a close family friend suffers from MS.
On the Move is a nationwide program created to empower communities with the knowledge, inspiration, and relentless resolve to end multiple sclerosis forever. This year in Dallas, the fundraising total exceeded $112,000.
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society helps people affected by MS by funding cutting-edge research, driving change through advocacy, facilitating professional education, and providing programs and services that help people with MS and their families move their lives forward.