I got an email the other day from one of my classmates in the legendary Garrett High School Class of 1976, Neal Esselburn. Neal and I have been friends from at least the first grade. Some of the most fun I had in high school involved running track and cross country with Neal (we used to run early every morning and I still remember the feel of running on the dewy grass of a golf course as the sun was coming up) and driving around and around many nights in his blue Corvair stuffed with friends. Someday, I want to write about or make a movie about the summer of 1975 at Feick Park in Garrett. Dazed and Confused is close, but it’s not quite right. In some ways, Melissa Etheridge’s Shriner’s Park comes close to capturing that feeling, although having heard Melissa’s introduction to the song at a concert, the context of her song is quite different. But, I digress.
It was a surprise when we heard that Neal had multiple sclerosis 20 years ago. I’ll always associate Neal with the neon green Adidas running shoes we wore as high school seniors far more than the motorized cart and cane he used when we had lunch this past summer.
Neal’s note was to let our email group of classmates know about an upcoming MS Walk he’s involved with. It’s a compelling cause and I got Neal’s permission to reproduce his note and ask readers of this blog, if you are so inclined, to consider making a contribution to this effort.
Neal wrote:
“Hello everyone. For those of you who don’t know, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in December 1984. It wasn’t the best news that I’ve ever had but it could’ve been much, much worse. I’m a volunteer for our MS walk committee and I’m asking each of you for your support.
Our walk is on Saturday May 15th. This also happens to be my birthday. I’m sending this note to you asking for any help you can give to end the devastating effects of Multiple Sclerosis.
I went on permanent disability in 1998. It was shortly after that, I began to volunteer a lot of my time to the National MS Society. I’ve been helping with the MS walk for 5 years. I’m a facilitator of MS support groups at the Lutheran Rehabilitation Hospital in Ft. Wayne and at DeKalb Memorial Hospital in Auburn.
I hope by sending this request via email that it doesn’t upset anyone. If you’re going to be in the area on May 15th, it would be great if you would come to the MS walk and wish me a happy birhday. I hope you can help. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me. Here is the information you’ll need to help with donations.
1) via internet:
> login to www.msindiana.org
> on the left side of the screen you should see
” MS WALK 2004-Register now! ”
> You’ll see an area for donations too.
2) You can also call (800) 762-1209. Explain that you’re
calling to help with the Northeast Indiana MS Walk
and they should be able to direct you to the corect
Thanks again for any help you can give us!!!
Neal A Esselburn”
And, thank you for any help you can give.