Nov 22, 2002
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Teri Garr was welcomed as the newest celebrity soldier in the fight against multiple sclerosis at the annual convention of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Garr, star of movies including "Young Frankenstein" and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," received the society's Shining Star Award Thursday from David L. Lander, the actor best known for playing Squiggy on the sitcom "Laverne and Shirley."
Lander revealed that he had MS in 1999, after hiding it for 15 years for fear of being unemployable in Hollywood. Garr went public with her MS this year in a media blitz that began on the "Larry King Live" show on CNN.
MS is an unpredictable neurological condition that can cause blurred vision, loss of balance, poor coordination, slurred speech, tremors, numbness, fatigue and in extreme cases blindness and paralysis. There is no cure, but drugs developed in the early 1990s have made it possible to slow its progress.
"It (the diagnosis) really freaked me out," Garr told a ballroom full of MS activists. "Actually, I thought, 'What's the difference, being handicapped in Hollywood, or being a woman over 50."'
Garr, who turns 54 next month, vowed to make up for lost time in her role as an MS spokeswoman.
"I'm new here, and I'm hoping that I can raise some awareness too, with
my so-called celebrity status," she said. "I am here to help you fight
the fight, and we're all in this together."
© Copyright 2002 Associated Press