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After 25 Years with MS, Resident Wants to Give Back

Susie Howard is raising funds for the National MS Society and bringing a team to the Boston Walk for MS this Sunday.

Twenty-five years ago, Bolton Place resident Susie Howard was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord and can severely inhibit a person’s ability to move.

But Howard, who has run multiple marathons – even since her diagnosis – is not the type to stop moving. In her years with MS, she’s been lucky, she says, to have relatively good health. She credits that health to the research and medical support available to her. And this year, her 25th year with the disease, she’d like to give back.

“I’m grateful,” she said. “And I’ve been blessed.”

On Sunday, April 10, Howard is leading a team on the National MS Walk, which runs along the Charles River. Her goal is to raise $2,500 and get up to 25 people from the community to join her on the three-mile walk.

Already she’s raised $1,000, and recruited about a dozen people for her walking team, “Susie’s Doozies.” But she’s welcoming donations of any amount to get her to closer to her goal – and welcoming anyone who’s been touched by MS to walk with her. You can donate online by clicking here.

MS, 25 years ago

Howard can recall the day she first identified symptoms of MS. One Friday night she was at the movies with friends and her leg fell asleep. Nothing strange about that, she thought. But the next morning she got up and went for a run. “I had this weird sensation,” she said. “The whole half side of my body was numb.”

Back then the science on MS was not half of what it is today, Howard said. For years she sought a diagnosis for her symptoms, but MRI technology didn’t exist and doctor’s didn’t have much research on the disease to draw on.

In 1986, a couple of months after Howard ran her first marathon, the diagnosis came. “It was a relief in a way,” she said.

Her first 10 years with MS weren’t easy, Howard said. But more recently, effective drug treatments have come on the market and, in addition to that regimen, Howard is very mindful of her health. Here’s some evidence: In 2001 and 2002, she ran the marathon two more times with the MS marathon team.

Getting involved

Howard’s lived in Charlestown since marrying her Townie husband, Tommy, one of the founders of the Charlestown Recovery House. She’s a lifelong Bostonian who grew up on Beacon Hill. She and Tommy, along with their dog, will be gathering the Susie’s Doozies walking team on Sunday around 11 a.m. The walk officially starts at noon.

If you want to join her, give her a call at 617-241-8575. (It’s a dog-friendly event if your dog wants to go, too.) Or email her: sah1957@hotmail.com.

Donations can be made online at this link. You can also mail checks to Howard, made out to National MS Society, c/o Susie Howard, 5 Bolton Place, Charlestown 02129.

MJ Bo Fields April 06, 2011 at 03:31 AM
This is only the tip of the iceberg of all there is that makes this angel of a girl so special. She incessantly gives of herself to community, career, parish and peers, and does so with the never-ending smile that has become her trademark, all the while expecting nothing in return save that of another day above-ground and grateful. A Godsend to all she touches.
Stephen P. Kinsley April 06, 2011 at 03:14 PM
You are a miracle Ms. Suzy and we love you!
danny fitz April 06, 2011 at 05:20 PM
awwh, suzy. i'll be donating to the doozies, but can't join you as my old "football" injuries are acting up. good luck with your goal and crew. all the best, danny fitz
Katy April 06, 2011 at 08:35 PM
Susie..my adopted sister - you inspire me. It is my honor and that of my daughter Julia's to "walk the walk" that you have been walking with grace all these years. Can't wait until Sunday. I love you. Katy
Maria April 07, 2011 at 02:32 AM
Hi Susie.....You are an inspiration to all! Keep up the good work! It is a pleasure to work with you every day! I am so happy to have met you. You go girl...I'll be thinking of you Sunday....Here's to Susie's Doozies and I know you will meet if not far exceed your goal.... Maria
Susie Howard April 07, 2011 at 01:54 PM
Overwhelmed by everyone's love & support! Our current total on 4/7/11 is $4,225.00. This is really going to make a HUGE difference for so many. Endless thanks! Keep praying for dry skies! Love, Susie
Kristi Ceccarossi April 07, 2011 at 01:57 PM
Congrats, Susie! That is such excellent news!

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