Chronic diseases take many forms – some of which are readily apparent; however, many more are hidden. Despite the visibility or lack thereof, all chronic conditions create an unthinkable hardship. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is just one example of a chronic disease that is not always visible to the family, friends, co-workers and acquaintances of individuals living with it.
Today, the Chronic Disease Coalition commends Nanette Reid for her strength and advocacy work in support of MS patients.
Reid has had multiple sclerosis for almost two decades. She was diagnosed at the age of 26, four months after the birth of her second child, a beautiful baby girl. At 26 years old, Reid had felt as though she had it all: a wonderful husband, a promising career with U.S. Bank, a 5-year-old son, a new baby girl. When she was diagnosed with MS, it took a few years for her to accept the diagnosis and what it meant for her moving forward.
Most people living with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50. Reid was diagnosed on the younger side of the spectrum and it was clear she had much to live for. Once she came to terms with her condition, she decided she wanted to help others. Ten years ago, she organized her first Walk MS team.
“Our original team was small, but we’ve grown in enthusiasm, size and fundraising,” she said.
Today, Reid is one of the top executives for U.S. Bank in Oregon. She has a lot on her plate, including her advocacy work for MS. Every year, she contacts friends and co-workers via email and social media. She shares a link to her website where she tells her story and shares ways they can contribute to her team.
First, she always reminds them of this: “There’s likely someone within your circle of family, friends and co-workers coping with MS. … Many people may not feel comfortable revealing it, but there is a way to help.”
She says that detail often “changes their perception about donating.”
It is never a hard sell, as it shouldn’t be. But going about it in this way makes it more personable and shows the individual the power of this connection. Reid and her team also provide donors with tax-deductible receipts and remind them to check with their employers, as many companies will provide matching gifts.
U.S. Bank Team Reid always ranks among the best fundraisers for the annual event. In 2015, Reid set a goal of raising $10,000 and was the No. 1 fundraiser for the Portland walk with $12,667.50 raised.
Currently Vice Chairman of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Oregon Chapter Board, Reid is a leading figure in the MS community. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society recognized her with a Lifetime Achievement Award on February 6, 2016.
“While MS is different for everyone, I want to make sure I’m doing everything I can to help others who live with this scary disease,” she said.
Reid’s work on behalf of those with MS demonstrates the power that advocacy, passionate commitment and charitable giving can have on a community.
Unfortunately, that spirit of giving may be under siege by some insurance companies. In many states across the country, some insurers are refusing to accept premium assistance payments made by charitable organizations and narrowing their networks to discriminate against people with chronic conditions. The effects this has on the ability of these patients to get the care they need is clear. What is less clear, but equally important, is the damage that is done to the spirit of generosity and support that surrounds patients with chronic diseases.
All of us, insurance companies included, should be joining the efforts of Reid and others like her – not trying to shut them down.