We’re proud to recognize a very special Chicago Mucker as our 100,000th Mucker. Erica Montelo initially became involved with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society when her sister, Kelly, was diagnosed with progressive multiple sclerosis five years ago. Alongside her family and friends, Erica participated in Walk MS events.
However, Erica decided that she wanted to do more. For the past two years, Erica has participated in MuckFest® MS to raise funds and awareness for the National MS Society. She mucks alongside her coworkers as a part of Team Microsoft.
Says Erica, “My sister means the world to me and getting all mucky and muddy to help raise money for the National MS Society is the least I can do.”
We asked Erica a few more questions about her sister, Team Microsoft, MuckFest MS, and her support of the National MS Society.
What is your connection to the National MS Society?
My oldest sister, Kelly, was diagnosed with Progressive MS in March of 2009 at the age of 31. Since then, we have participated in events such as Walk MS and now, MuckFest MS!
Can you describe your sister’s experience living with multiple sclerosis?
Since being diagnosed, Kelly has faced many changes in her life, some positive and some difficult. Shortly after being diagnosed, Kelly had to resign from her line of work. Personally speaking, I’ve watched some daily activities become more difficult for my sister. However, those daily challenges have built even stronger relationships between those who care for Kelly. MS is not just physically exhausting, but emotionally exhausting, as well. There are constant reminders of concerns regarding what she can and cannot do, however, we encourage her to continue to do what she enjoys.
What does your sister mean to you?
My sister Kelly and I have been close since the day I was born. There isn’t a single thing I wouldn’t do for her. If I could even change roles with her, I would in a heartbeat. She continues to amaze me every day and is still my go-to. She has helped me realize I am most happy when I am giving back and helping others. She has inspired me to go back to school for Physical Therapy and to fulfill my dreams. I can’t thank her enough for what she has done and continues to do for me.
As a part of Team Microsoft, tell us about the support you’ve received from your coworkers.
Having my coworkers support means the world to me. Without them, my impact on the National MS Society would not have been as successful. They did an amazing job with fundraising, helped decide on our team costumes, and gave up their Saturday for a great cause! My coworkers know how much my sister means to me. It has shown me that what is important to me is important to them and how much we care for one another. I look forward to continuing this event with my amazing colleagues!
Tell us about your experience at your first MuckFest MS in Chicago last year.
I can’t say enough good things about MuckFest MS and the National MS Society. Everyone was extremely helpful answering questions leading up to the event and even reached out after the event. The day of the event, everything was organized and well put together. There were team activities to build up excitement before starting the obstacle course. This was my first 5K, and I was a little nervous, but very excited. During the course, we were no longer separate teams but all one team. Everyone was helping each other pull through to finish the course.
If you had one message to all Muckers, what would it be?
Don’t give up and don’t take anything for granted. I never thought I’d make it through a 5K, but my sister taught me that I can overcome any obstacle.
Join Erica and Muckers across the country at MuckFest MS to support people living with MS and to bring us closer to a world without MS.