THE NATIONAL MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS SOCIETY'S 2003 DINNER OF CHAMPIONS
SEPTEMBER 16, 2003
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
© Copyright 2003 Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P
All rights reserved. Do not use without written permission from HP.
The following remarks were made by Carly to thank the National MS Society for the award on behalf of HP.
Thank you very much, and good evening.
One of the things that I've always believed about the National Multiple Sclerosis Society is that it is a great organization, and as a great organization, it attracts nothing but great people. And certainly that is true, not only of our auctioneer and master of ceremonies, but it is true as well of our co-chairs, both Paul Otellini and Lynn Fritz. Thank you both for your leadership tonight as well.
And I cannot tell you what an honor it is to share the same stage with Dr. Jill Leverton Wright and her husband, and to have shared an evening with them over dinner tonight. Watching that video, I think there really is no question that the one thing greater than the power of this disease is the power of love. Thank you both for sharing that wonderful video with us.
On behalf of HP, I am grateful and humble to receive this award. But to be honest, looking out this evening, I feel a little bit like Will Rogers did when he was asked to review a parade in Washington D.C. to celebrate the homecoming of World War I veterans. It was a very hot day in Washington that day, and most of the soldiers were fully garbed with packs and helmets, and yet all of the generals and the guests were seated on the reviewing stand. And Will Rogers took one look at this and said, "You know, if we really wanted to be honoring the people most responsible for our success, we would put the foot soldiers on the stage, and ask the generals and the general public to march by."
And that is really how I feel this evening, because the hope that we celebrate with this award is nothing compared to the hope that all of you bring in serving this community everyday, and I am profoundly honored on behalf of HP to be associated with all of you this evening.
I think sometimes it's difficult to imagine, as we go through our days doing all the things that we do - working, spending time with our families, going to a play or to a soccer game - it's hard to imagine that there are hundreds of our friends and neighbors going through their day, doing the same things, except they are accompanied at all times by this disease. They know that they will come to a point in their lives when they are very different because of the disease - and that one day, it will be much harder for them to do the things that we take for granted. And for many people, of course, that day has already come.
It is possible to describe to other people the numbers and the statistics of MS, and those numbers and statistics still have the power to shock us…that two million people around the world, and the nearly half a million Americans today who live with MS - a number that would fill Pac Bell Park 12 times; that every week, 200 people more are diagnosed with this disease; and that three times as many women are diagnosed with this disease as men.
It's also possible to describe the symptoms of MS…the fatigue, the numbness, the vision problems, the memory lapses, the problems with walking and basic movement. We can explain how this disease progresses, how there are several different paths the disease can take, some of which are more severe than others, and how this is both a constant source of hope for people with MS and a constant source of anxiety…but how do you explain what it feels like to wake up in the morning and have to wiggle your toes to see if you can walk? How do you explain how it feels to be a father who can't play catch with his son in the backyard, or a mother who cannot pick up a crying child because you don't have the strength? How do you explain how it feels to be 30 years old and have to move back in with your parents because you cannot live by yourself? Or have to alter your career plans, or maybe your plans to have children because you're not sure what will happen next?
And as this organization has taught us all, it is these losses where MS reveals itself - in the disruption, when ordinary pleasures of life are taken away, or where the anxiety that they might be taken away plays out. But it is also in these moments of disruption where I think the message of this group is most powerful. The National MS Society says to the world that until we find a cure, MS may be a life sentence, but it is far from a death sentence.
As Dr. Leverton Wright teaches us, as more than 11,200 people living in Northern California living with this disease teach us - people with MS are no less capable, no less talented, no less valuable to us because of their disease, and how could we ever have thought differently? Living with MS means you are no less important to your place of work or more valuable, no less important or valuable to your community, no less vital and valuable to your family, as you were before you were diagnosed.
And that's why I think the decision that this society made 30 years ago to support a dual mission was the right one, a dual mission that says we will continue to search for a cure, but until we find one, we will help people cope with the unpredictability of MS.
I have no doubt that one day we will find a cure for MS, and I found the presentation by the doctor this evening both extremely educational and extremely inspirational, and my belief that we will find a cure was strengthened by that presentation. And what makes me believe, of course, is the remarkable progress that's been made in the past decade alone, and we heard about some more remarkable progress made just in the last five years.
I learned a lot coming to this dinner tonight, and I was amazed, for example, to learn that as recently as ten years ago, there were virtually no treatments available for MS patients, but today there are five drug therapies on the market. I was amazed to learn that as recently as the 1980s, it took an average of seven years for a patient to be diagnosed with MS, but today MRI brain scans can help doctors catch MS when a patient is showing the earliest signs of the disease, and that of course gives the patients a crucial head start in treatment. And as Dr. Hauser told us, new research indicates that doctors can follow a diagnosis of MS with an antibodies test that can help determine what kind of MS a patient is going to experience, and therefore what kind of treatment they'll need.
And that's also why I believe it's so vital for organizations like HP to be involved. We have always believed that companies like ours exist not just to make a dollar, but to make a difference, particularly for communities like the Bay Area that have given so much to our company. We are proud to support the Silicon Valley Chapter of the National MS Society, and we are even more proud that HP employees do their part by dedicating both their time and their resources volunteering at more than 20 MS Society chapters across the country.
We know that this can be the loneliest of diseases, but among other things, the message of this dinner tonight is that no one is alone.
At HP, for those of you who have seen some of our advertisements, you may have noticed that we close all of our advertisements with the phrase: Everything is possible. This is more than a tagline; this is actually something we believe. This is something that I fervently believe. Everything is possible does not mean that everything is easy or everything is fast or that everything happens without real sacrifice and real dedication. But everything is possible.
It is easy to forget perhaps in times like this, when we are living through war and recession, that we are in fact living in a truly remarkable age. As we sit here tonight, advances in genomic research and in nano technology are leading to cancer screening devices that will be able to detect tumors when they are just a few cells in size. Scientists are hard at work making advances in digital technology to replicate damaged tissue in spines so that one day people will be able to get out of their wheelchairs and walk. And every single day, advances in science make things that seemed impossible, possible.
But for all the power of science and technology there is still nothing stronger than the power of partnership. People with different specialties and different talents uniting in a common purpose have proven time and time again to be the recipe for some of the most inspired feats of problem-solving in history. And it is this same kind of partnership that brings us all together here tonight.
If we can be as committed as people with MS are strong, if we can be as determined as they are proud, and if we can be as united as they are hopeful, I believe we will see the end of MS in our lifetimes. That is both our hope and our challenge here tonight.
Thank you for letting me and all of HP be part of your journey.