A Model Volunteer
Alicia L. Wilson was diagnosed with MS on her 30th birthday, in February 1998. “That’s what I got as a present,” she says. She almost means it. “I was modeling, always over in Europe. If not for MS, I wouldn’t have come home and spent the last years of my mom’s life with her.”
About four years ago, Alicia’s neurologist suggested she go to Society support meetings. She had researched MS thoroughly, “but the Society has so much more info than I was learning on my own,” she says. “I wish I had gone to a newly diagnosed support group—it would’ve saved me a lot of time and effort.”
Two years later, Alicia co-founded the New York branch of the Society’s Ambassador Program—volunteers trained to help Society staff with health fairs, fundraisers and special events. “MS is something I’m going to have for the rest of my life so I prefer to get involved,” she says. “It’s not embarrassing or a crime or a sin to have MS. It’s just something I have. I want to let people know, so more will be aware of the disease.”
A model for 10 years with Ford Model Management, Alicia, who grew up on a farm in North Carolina as a 5'11" “stick,” was Momentum’s Fall 2010 cover girl. While in Czechoslovakia on a shoot for Elle magazine she was the first African American person some residents had ever seen. “I felt like a pioneer,” she comments. “It was wonderful that they were learning about African Americans through me.” In South America, she got bit by piranhas when she was swimming in the Amazon. “It was like a knife cutting me!" she remembers.
“So many people look at me and say I look really healthy,” she continues. “I might say, ‘If you saw my insides, you wouldn’t say that.’ Every part of my body hurts. It might not look it but I know I have MS.”
Alicia, 42, who now lives on Staten Island, N.Y., says volunteering has helped her keep her spirits up. “I’ve met so many wonderful people and the feeling of helping others is a great feeling,” she says. “All it takes is a phone call!”
To learn more about the Ambassador program, click here, contact your local chapter or call 1-800-344-4867.