Meet the Volunteer of the Year

In 2015, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society awarded Bill MacNally the National Volunteer of the Year Award, one of the highest honors bestowed by the organization to a volunteer. We spoke with Bill and found out exactly how he achieved such a high honor through volunteering with the National MS Society. It even involves helping out at several MuckFest® MS events.

Bill recounts one of his favorite memories from one of the many MuckFest MS events at which he has volunteered and helped manage donors. A group of grandchildren crossed the finish line with their grandmother, covered in mud. They were celebrating her 70th birthday and getting muddy together was their present to her.

Bill has witnessed many heart-warming moments like this one while volunteering at MuckFest MS events over the last couple of years. He has worked with registration support, helped major donors at the events, and says he absolutely loves working at MuckFest MS.

For him, MuckFest MS serves as a way to meet great people, help others, and cheer people on as they run and finish the course. He believes that anyone can volunteer at our events and make an impact. Bill enjoys it so much that he’s helped out at several MuckFest MS events in Minnesota.

Bill has been involved with the National MS Society since before his diagnosis in April, 1993. He began his work with the National MS Society helping merge two bike rides into what is now the popular BP MS 150 ride in the Bike MS event series. After his diagnosis of relapsing-remitting MS, Bill didn’t let it stop him from continuing to be an active volunteer and then becoming a member of the board for the National MS Society. 

He is also a political advocate for MS in two major ways. He serves as the chair of the Government Relations Committee that tries to move MS policy through state legislature and he also lobbies on a federal level by attending National Policy Forums, being a District Activist Leader, and a member of the Federal Advocacy Council. For Bill, this is a way for him to do his part in the fight to end MS forever.

But Bill doesn’t only do this for himself, he does it on behalf of every single person facing the challenges MS presents. He hopes that his work inspires them to get involved, the same way other volunteers have inspired him. Tom Holtackers, the 2010 winner of the Volunteer of the Year Award, has been a source of inspiration to Bill for many years. Another source of inspiration for Bill is the late, David Chaikin, who also served as a Minnesota Chapter volunteer.

It is because of these people and the inspiration they give him that Bill volunteers at as many of the events in his native Minnesota as possible. At these events Bill is a dynamic volunteer. He takes on responsibilities ranging from working the VIP tents to working at rest stops and helping serve meals for participants at Bike MS events. He also provides support to those who are newly diagnosed with MS on the behalf of the National MS Society.

It would seem only fitting that someone like Bill would receive such a prestigious award from the National MS Society. His dedication and work helps to inspire others to get involved and join the fight to end MS. Bill shared, “It is a tremendous honor and a great surprise to be recognized next to a long line of people. Many I have known and have truly admired. It inspired me to keep saying yes to volunteer opportunities as they came along, not because of awards, but because I know the work is doing something to help people with MS.”  

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In addition to all the work Bill does for the National MS Society, in the past, he has been involved with the American Academy of Neurology, the National Federal Activism Council, and the Mediation Services of Anoka County.

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