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User Spotlight: Kathryn Zapach, National MS Society – Central Virginia Chapter

This week we spotlight Kathryn Zapach, Director, Programs & Services at National MS Society – Central Virginia Chapter.

Tell us about you and your work.

I?ve been with the Society for 3 years, and prior to joining NMSS, I worked in child welfare as well as in children?s mentoring services. I have a passion for macro social work and really love working for a health non-profit. I work primarily with the 2400 people living with multiple sclerosis (MS) and their families here in Central Virginia. I do everything from information and referral services and hosting educational or social programs, to advocating for those living with chronic illnesses or physical disabilities to outreach to health care professionals. Our chapter is part of a national organization which drives cutting-edge MS research for better treatments and ultimately a cure for this disease as well as sponsoring programs and services to help address the day-to-day challenges of living with MS.

Tell us about your biggest accomplishment in this position.

I?m most proud of the continued growth of our MS Kids Camp, which is an annual camp for children who have a parent/guardian living with MS. I wrote and received a grant from the Ronald McDonald House Charities to fund the first year, and since then we have doubled the number of campers attending from Central Virginia. As exhausting as it can be to put on a ?camp director? hat for the weekend, it?s worth it to see kids learning about a disease that has such a huge impact on their families while also just having fun at camp. It?s one of my favorite programs by far.

What are some major challenges you have faced and how did you handle them? What is a lesson learned in this position?

Multiple sclerosis is such an unpredictable disease. It varies greatly from person to person and day to day for those living with it. I have watched some of the people we serve rapidly decline and there is nothing I personally can do about their disease progression, which can make me feel very helpless. It really drives home how important our work is and how we need to continue to raise funds and awareness so one day, no one has to hear, ?You have MS.?

What?s coming next for you and your organization that really excites you?

World MS Day is coming up on May 29, and in honor of the day, Gov. McDonnell has been so gracious to light the Governor?s Mansion orange! We are very excited for this opportunity to increase MS awareness and come together in honor of the day. On June 1 & 2 join us for Bike MS: Ride Virginia! This is a 2-day, 150 mile fundraising event. Not up for riding 150 miles? We have a one day ride option on Sunday for 25 or 50 miles.

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