What’s your Breakthrough?: 2016 National MS Society Leadership Conference Recap
In mid-October I received an invitation to the 2016 National MS Society’s Leadership Conference in Denver on Nov 10-12th. My local chapter representative thought I would get a lot out of attending this, so I said sure!
Turns out it was an amazing experience. This was a national conference with attendees from all over the nation. They were staff from chapters around the country, board of director members, and top team captains and volunteers. Essentially those most dedicated to the Society were there to network and learn about the latest goals the Society has.
Here are a few things that I took away from the conference:
- The new campaign they are kicking off, called Breakthrough MS, is a 5-year, 1 Billion dollar campaign. That’s right, their goal is to raise 1 Billion dollars over the next 5 years. You can be sure Team NEO Bike MS is going to do its part!
- I went to a breakout session that talked team best practices. I left that with a lot of new ideas for Team NEO.
- Another breakout session I attended focused on explaining the role the Society takes in advocacy – explaining how they work with legislative branch, as well as federal agencies to explain the needs of people dealing with MS. This was very informative.
- New connections and a bigger network.
There were also programs during the meal sessions, where new research was highlighted and doctors were recognized for their research. In addition, there was an awards banquet that recognized the service of volunteers and fundraisers who have made a significant impact on the society.
But now I’ll get back to the theme of the conference and the name of the new campaign. Breakthrough MS. This term was woven throughout the programs… breakthrough. The number of successes in MS research has been increasing, so they want to help fund that big breakthrough. But they also want to help those dealing with MS have their own breakthroughs, whether that is access to medication, support programs, mobility assistance devices, or anything else to improve quality of life. A breakthrough doesn’t have to be made in the research lab (though a cure would be nice!); it can be as simple as getting access to a tablet device so that they can read in larger print and therefore more connected with the world. We spent some time in groups talking about what our breakthroughs have been and might be.
In the realm of endurance sports, we have breakthroughs as well. Some can be relatively small, such as finally finding the right pair of swim goggles or cycling shoes. Others might be big, as a nice solid bump in functional threshold power leading to personal best race performances. But all breakthroughs take work, persistence, and dedication. If something is frustrating you, how will you break through that frustration and find your solution? Or if you have a lofty goal, what are your steps, day by day, to reach it?
In endurance sports, the world of multiple sclerosis, and in life, if we put in the work, we can achieve the breakthroughs for which we are searching.