The National MS Society, Biogen Idec, And MSWorld, Inc., Recognize Winners Of The First Annual MS Leaders Of Hope(SM)

DENVER, Colo., Nov. 11 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- The National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Biogen Idec, and MSWorld(R) announced yesterday winners of the inaugural MS Leaders of Hope awards, honoring individuals with MS and their caregivers who have responded to the challenges of the disease in ways that uniquely inspire others.

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The four-month online program selected a winning applicant for developing creative solutions to life issues in each of six different categories: mobility, relationship, time management, employment, memory and caregiving. Twenty thousand votes were cast for the 18 finalists. Winners were presented with their awards during a ceremony yesterday at the Society's National Conference held in Denver, Colorado.

"We want to express our gratitude to all the people who submitted their inspiring stories and creative solutions to the MS Leaders of Hope awards," said Gen. Mike Dugan, president and CEO of the National MS Society. "These stories clearly illustrate the indomitable spirit of people with MS and their loved ones. We expect a powerful rippling effect as more and more individuals inside and outside the MS community learn of these innovative solutions."

After a three-week online voting period, winners were chosen in the following categories:

   * Mobility -- Joy Wagner, Barrington, Ill.:  Due to MS and its symptoms,
    Joy was home bound until she found an innovative way to combine her
    proficiency in nursing and knowledge of various exercise programs.  The
    end result was a workout routine that helped Joy to regain her balance,
    coordination, strength, flexibility, range of motion and ultimately
    independence.  Now Joy is sharing this innovative program she has
    dubbed FitMS with fellow individuals challenged by MS in her community.

   * Relationship -- Laura Houchens, Smiths Grove, Ky.: Laura, a high school
    teacher, was reticent at first to discuss her MS with her students, but
    as time went by she became more comfortable discussing her illness.
    Now, more than three years after her diagnosis, Laura has become active
    in The MS Walk.  Her students have also become partners with her in
    selling The MS Walk Shoes, which now adorn the hallway outside her

   * Time Management -- Amy Leckinger, Montgomery, Ill.: With a husband,
    four children and a daycare center in her home, time management has
    always been an issue for Amy, even before her diagnosis of MS.  But
    now, with the help of a new time management system, Amy's day is broken
    into manageable 30-minute increments. She's now able to find time for
    all of her responsibilities, and even has time left over time for her
    husband and a nap when needed.

   * Employment/Workplace -- Joan Flax, Cerritos, Calif.: As a sixth grade
    teacher, Joan realized that correct spelling and her MS were a tough
    combination.  Because of her MS, spelling mistakes became a fairly
    common problem. Instead of accepting her predicament, Joan decided to
    take action.  She instituted a "points" program for student teams that
    found the most errors in published materials, such as newspapers and
    magazines, and even things on overheads or boards. As a result, Joan is
    able to mask her unintentional mistakes and turn her problem into a
    learning opportunity for her students.

   * Memory -- Elizabeth Minor, Odessa, Tx: Worried that her memory loss was
    going to rob her of much of the pleasure of watching her young
    grandsons grow up, Elizabeth decided to create a "Memory Scrapbook" for
    both of the boys.  With the help of her trusty camera, some colored
    paper, scissors and some crafty ideas, Elizabeth has documented the
    children's growth, ensuring that she'll always have the sharpest and
    sweetest memories of watching them get older.

   * Caregiving -- Meg Word, Chatanooga, Tenn.: Before Meg's mother showed
    symptoms of MS, she was physically active and enjoyed playing games
    with the family.  While her diagnosis with MS may have limited her
    physically, the desire to keep playing has not diminished at all.  In
    order to level the playing field, Meg and her family have created their
    own version of paddleball, replete with rules that penalize opponents
    for moving their feet to reach the ball.  Today, Meg's mother not only
    can compete, but she's proven nearly unbeatable.

"We couldn't be more pleased about the winning entries in what we hope is the first of many MS Leaders of Hope programs," said James C. Mullen, CEO of Biogen Idec. "The incredible response to this program is testament to the powers of perseverance and the resilience of all those living with this disease. Biogen Idec continues to be a champion for those with MS, and hopes that through our innovative treatments, we too are providing creative solutions to patients' needs."

"The MS Leaders of Hope program helps all of us to look at solutions to daily challenges. It's this spirit of Patients Helping Patients that makes a difference in our lives," said Kathleen Wilson MA, MFA, president and founder of MSWorld.

Winners received a $1,000 cash prize and a trip for two to Denver for the National MS Society's National Conference, where they were presented with their awards. All winner stories are posted online and can be read at

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, unpredictable disease of the central nervous system that according to the National MS Society, affects approximately 400,000 people in the United States and approximately 2.5 million people worldwide. It is a disease of young adults, mostly women, with onset typically between 20 and 50 years of age. Each hour someone is newly diagnosed. MS symptoms may include vision problems, loss of balance, numbness, difficulty walking and even complete paralysis.

About The National MS Society

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society, founded in 1946, supports more MS research, offers more services to people with MS, provides more professional education programs, and advances more MS advocacy efforts than any other MS organization in the world.

About Biogen Idec

Biogen Idec creates new standards of care in oncology and immunology. As a global leader in the development, manufacturing, and commercialization of novel therapies, Biogen Idec transforms scientific discoveries into advances in human healthcare. For press releases and additional information about the company, please visit

About MSWorld

Inspired by Christopher Reeve nine years ago, MSWorld began with a single chat room and has evolved into a comprehensive on-line self-help site for everyone coping with MS. All of the staff at MSWorld are diagnosed with MS and volunteer their time and talents to help others. MSWorld is committed to helping people attain an unparalleled level of independence by providing a safe place on-line to meet for support and to gather information.

"Our Motto at MSWorld is Wellness is a State of Mind. When you are well within your mind your life has its greatest potential," Kathleen Wilson MA, MFA, President & Founder,

MEDIA CONTACTS: National Multiple Sclerosis Society Biogen Idec Arney Rosenblat Amy Ryan Ph: 212 476 0436 Ph: 617 914 6524 MSWorld, Inc. Alan Mandel Ph: 412 996 7700

Photo: Archive: Photo Desk, photodesk@prnewswire.comBiogen Idec

CONTACT: Arney Rosenblat of National Multiple Sclerosis Society,+1-212-476-0436; or Amy Ryan of Biogen Idec, +1-617-914-6524; or Alan Mandelof MSWorld, Inc., +1-412-996-7700

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