Monday, June 18, 2012

Celebrities with MS- We Need More of Them

imagesYou may be aware of the recent announcement that Ozzy Osbourne’s son, Jack, has multiple sclerosis. Jack, if you're reading this, please accept my thanks for going public with your private health issue and accept my heartfelt condolences regarding your diagnosis. As you've undoubtedly been told already, MS is not a death sentence by any means, but your life will never be the same. You can take solace in the fact that you are now part of a community of approximately 400,000 Americans, and more than 2.5 million people worldwide who are similarly affected. At some point, after you have adjusted a bit to your new reality, please consider wielding your celebrity to support our collective cause. We can use all the help we can get.

But let's face it, the MS cause needs what Parkinson's disease already has – a Michael J Fox. And right now, we don't have one. Sure, we have several celebrities such as Montel Williams, Richard Cohen, Annette Funicello, Teri Garr, David "Squiggy” Lander, Anne Romney, Clay Walker, Marc Stecker, and Jeff Beal who are known to have MS, and who are making considerable efforts on our behalf. But what we lack is somebody with the stature and commitment of Michael J Fox.

Let's consider what he has done for Parkinson's.

His charity, The Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, has become the largest private funder of Parkinson's disease research in the world, investing almost $200 million to date. The foundation is still going strong, and may someday be a significant factor in finding the cure for Parkinson's. That's right. The efforts of a single advocate like Mr. Fox could positively impact the 5 million or so people who are living with Parkinson's today, and the many more who may contract this disease in the future.

Although I wouldn't wish this disease on my worst enemy, imagine if someone like Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Beyoncé, Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Ellen Degeneres, Lady Gaga, Leonardo DiCaprio, Julia Roberts, or George Clooney developed MS? It would be devastating for them and their loved ones, but just think of the good they might do for millions of people with MS.

images (1)Every time I hear a celebrity announcing that they have a disease, I'm jealous when that disease is not MS. I sincerely hope that somebody of this A-list stature, who is inclined toward activism, joins our little fraternity and injects $200 million or so into research.  Does this make me a bad person?

Before closing out this post, I will issue a personal challenge to Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne. You are at least as well-known as Michael J Fox. Are you going to let that vertically challenged Canadian raise more money for his disease than you do for yours?

Let’s cross our fingers for a big celebrity announcement in the near future…

Please forgive my callousness, but I feel entitled to at least the tongue-in-cheek variety of it.


  1. Hardly callous -- we DO need advocates -- ones who are big in the public eye. Maybe that person[s] need not have MS, just be willing to get the ball rolling. Thanks for voicing what many of us think.

  2. Muff,

    As someone wrote me in an e-mail, it's not only that they need to be advocates but it sure helps if they are well loved like Michael J Fox is.

  3. Thank you for throwing down the gauntlet or issuing a double dog dare of sorts.

  4. kicker,

    I'm pretty sure they never heard my dare...

  5. Yikes! How did I make it onto the celebrity list? A stupidity list, maybe, but a celebrity list – surely you jest.

    I do promise to use my influence for the betterment of PwMS. Unfortunately, I think my influence extends only as far as my apartment, which means that I've managed to sway my wife. Oh, and maybe the doorman of my building, who I'm pretty sure is sick of having to open the door extra wide so my wheelchair can get through.

  6. Marc,

    You are too humble. Don't forget the incredible impact you've had on so many doctors in the greater New York City and Albany areas. You made them rich, through your insurance company, and that's no insignificant feat!

    Seriously though, the other people in this list were famous first and got MS second. I wanted to add at least one person who had MS first and became somewhat well-known afterward.

    Plus, this was a test to see if you were still reading my blog. You passed!

  7. Can't help but think that at least from the point-of-view of public awareness & a greater understanding of MS .... a future "First Lady Romney" might could do some wonders!

    I was raised republican & my family still always votes republican, Me? I vote what my "gut" tells me & I'm not sure Romney will be getting my vote, but if does it will be the hope of the First Lady bringing much awareness to our cause.

  8. theoretically a First Lady Romney could help our cause. However, I fear that she would be more inclined to put forth the image of "look, even people with MS can lead full lives", rather than the message of "millions of people are suffering horribly with MS and we need to find a cure, NOW!

    But maybe I'm just being cynical.