March 2, 2004
Introducing Unsung angels, a new monthly column that highlights extraordinary
givers to other individuals, the community or the environment, and often
work behind the scenes without recognition. Plus, learn how to nominate
"I just walked in and asked, 'Do you need any help?' They said 'sure.' So I started out answering phones and doing other office tasks. The small office was the only difficulty."
John McKinley, 55, nodded toward the walker that was tucked behind our table at a Lynnwood coffee shop.
"For me, it's an asset - it gets me from point A to point B. I'm still the same guy I was 20 years ago, I just happen to have a walker now."
McKinley's walker became a necessity 6 years earlier when Multiple Sclerosis caused a creeping numbness in his legs. Since then, it has allowed him to contribute several hours each week to the MS Association of King County.
"This area has twice the national average of people with MS. When I was diagnosed, I needed to have someone tell me what was going to happen - I was concerned. You need someone to talk to in the initial stages. The MS Association provides that for people," said McKinley.
Over the past 6 years he has answered phones, worked on fundraising projects and assisted with flu shot campaigns. He is now the vice president of the MSA, and still volunteers every minute of his time.
"I couldn't just sit around," said McKinley. "I was 36 at the time of diagnosis - a construction worker right at the peak of my career. I wanted to be useful - do something meaningful. What would be more meaningful than to volunteer for an organization that helps other people with MS?"
"MS has helped me learn a lot about myself. It's helped me to be more compassionate. I realized what people have to do to overcome obstacles in their life."
The MS Association of King County serves all people living with MS and
their family members regardless of their ability to pay, providing direct
rehabilitative and social services. Contact the MSA at (206) 633-2606 or
visit www.msa-sea.org .
Copyright © 2004, Journal Newspapers