ABC 7 would like to introduce you to our first 7 Who Care honoree, Chris Riceman.
Chris dedicates her life to those with Multiple Sclerosis. Living with MS herself, Chris still manages to find the strength and determination to help others through her leadership, inspiration and example offering them her friendship and hope.
In a conference room once a month, a group of friends gather. They are called the "Friends of Hope", and their hope is that one day there will be a cure for Multiple Sclerosis, an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and central nervous system.
Chris Riceman organizes and leads the group meetings, acts as a supporter for its members, but to many more importantly, she's a friend. "She listens to a person empathizes with them and gives hope to those that have MS and some people this is the only thing they do is go to a support group" says Connie Jones.
Jones says after hearing about the 7 Who Care Awards, “I knew right away who I was going to nominate.”
She wasn't the only one. Chris Riceman received more nominations than any other volunteer. "I was just amazed how many people were affected by what I do."
Chris was diagnosed 11 years ago with multiple sclerosis, words she says at the time she didn't know. She said she didn't know anyone else with the disease and felt like there was nowhere to turn. "I didn't want people who are newly diagnosed to have to go through that."
She is now a woman with a mission. In addition to organizing the annual MS Walk and raising thousands of dollars in the process, Chris organizes pokers runs, yard sales and anything to raise awareness for Multiple Sclerosis.
"MS has robbed her of her career. She was an accountant, but not able to work, so she puts all her energy into this support group,” says Chris’ Mother Judy Riceman.
Energy that is not easy to come by. “Now my biggest symptom is fatigue. MS fatigue is like none other," says Chris.
But as one of Chris' biggest supporters, her mom says it's the desire to help others that keeps her going, and that positive attitude transcends to her "Friends of Hope. “She tries not to let the group be negative. If she helps one person she's happy," says Judy.
So while Chris is described as a “Friends of Hope” organizer, her friends have showed us that she's so much more, a hero among us offering hope to those who need it. "Hope is a great word, we're all looking for hope no matter what our life situation is," says Connie.
“People don’t know what MS is. They don’t realize the things that it does to people. It affects us very deeply and I just want people to know that," says Chris.
Chris was very moved by the honor today. She talked about her challenges but also how she can help others facing those same things.