May 12, 2004
The Boston Globe
When Governor Mitt Romney asked his wife where she was going yesterday morning, she told him she was headed to the State House. "I'm going to lobby you," she recalled telling him.
During a rare public appearance at the State House yesterday, Ann Romney joined more than 200 advocates who lobbied the Legislature to raise awareness about multiple sclerosis. Mrs. Romney, who was diagnosed with MS more than five years ago and is in remission, said she hopes others will gain greater knowledge about the illness and come closer to finding a cure.
"I want to encourage people to speak out and make others aware of the problems people with this disease face," she told the crowd. "I am very strong right now, but I have been in a deep, dark hole and I have crawled out inch by inch."
Romney, who learned she had the disease in 1999 before her husband was tapped to run the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, said she does daily physical therapy. "It also involves recognizing what my limits are and not exceeding them," she said.
Members of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Central New England Chapter, along with Romney, urged legislators to pass MS-related legislation. Mrs. Romney also read a proclamation by the governor declaring this week Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week in the Commonwealth.
One bill supported by advocates yesterday would study the level of access to public transportation for people with disabilities. Another would study long-term care facilities for people ages 19 to 59 with MS and other conditions, and the costs of providing services to that population.
Representative Peter J. Koutoujian, a Waltham Democrat and cochairman of the Joint Committee on Health Care, said the study of long-term care facilities might not cost the state additional money and would find statistics on waiting lists and the status of bed availability.
"We know there are needs, but we don't know specifically what they are," Koutoujian said.
About 400,000 people nationwide have been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis,
according to the Central New England Chapter, which includes Massachusetts
and New Hampshire. In those two states, the chapter estimates that about
13,000 families are affected by the disease. MS is a chronic disease affecting
the central nervous system. Its symptoms can include blurred vision, fatigue,
Copyright © 2004, Globe Newspaper Company