Diann Pellerito doesn't let illness get in way of community service
Tuesday, June 10, 2003
By Chris Sebastian
Diann Pellerito wrung her hands and fidgeted happily in her living room couch when asked about the support group she established for multiple sclerosis patients.
Pellerito, 46, was diagnosed with MS three years ago. She formed the St. Clair River MS Support Group as a way to not only help those with the disease find answers, but to help herself as well.
The wife and mother of two isn't letting the diagnosis slow her down, and community members are thankful for her desire to keep moving.
A retired Millside Elementary School paraprofessional, Pellerito finds the energy and time to be chairwoman of the St. Clair County Council on Aging and sit on the Algonac-Clay Township Library Board.
"It's so exciting. When I help people, I feel better," she said of the support group.
About six people now meet monthly to discuss their health, emotions and questions. The group, members said, offers an upbeat alternative to other therapy options they have tried.
Group member Michelle Hartmeyer is a 38-year-old Clay Township resident who was diagnosed six years ago.
"It's nice to talk to other people with symptoms that I have been having," Hartmeyer said.
Pellerito's group does not dwell on the negatives, Hartmeyer said, but educates through encouragement. It's far different than other sessions she's attended.
"I walked away (from other groups) ... extremely depressed, because all they did was whine about what they couldn't do," she said.
Pellerito enjoys spending time with her family in their home along Anchor Bay, riding on their boat or relaxing with the computer. Her family's encouragement helps move her through the battle with the disease, she said.
Little bits of support from everyone keep her active, she said.
"It's just enough to pull you out of 'How do I get through this day?'"
Copyright ©2003 The Times Herald