Congratulations to all the MS Go for Gold Scholarship recipients for 2021.
We were overwhelmed with the positive response to the program receiving 217 applications this year, all for a variety of goals. The judges found it extremely difficult to award only 25 applicants this year, as there were so many deserving applications. We hope next year to have more MS Go for Gold Scholarships available to enable even more people living with multiple sclerosis fulfil their dreams that otherwise may be out of reach.
You can read the stories of this year’s recipients below. And remember if you need support or services to live well with MS – we are here for you. Contact our Plus Connect team on 1800 042 138 to find out how we can help you or your loved ones.
Jessica was diagnosed with MS in May 2020. Whilst out bike riding with her kids, she suddenly could not see.
Coming home from the hospital with her new diagnosis turned Jessica’s life upside down, but also gave her a whole new outlook with privileges she never thought possible.
“MS allows me to 'cut the crap' from my life, prioritising only what's important to me and my family. It gives me a license to self-care and for this I am so grateful.”
Since Jessica's diagnosis, she has worked especially hard at building her fitness. She is now a mountain bike skill instructor, lead women's social rider and has competed in her first mountain bike race this year! Jessica will use her MS Go for Gold Scholarship to purchase a second-hand cross country mountain bike for training and racing. This style of bike will help her with the next progression of riding and give her greater access to coaching and social rides.
“When I'm riding, I can decompress my day, solve problems in my head, pump those endorphins and let my competitiveness shine!”
Mim's dream is to bring her short story manuscript to life so that others can connect with her characters as they embark on a journey fueled by hope.
Mim was first diagnosed with MS at the age of 35. At the age of 39, Mim was in a wheelchair and unable to care independently for herself or her 6-year-old son. The only accommodation option available to Mim was at a nursing home while her son went into her mother's care. After three months and daily attempts to get herself home, Min started to lose hope that she would be able to return to live at home and care for her son again.
Engendering hope through a fictional story with characters that people love and are close to is what motivates me.
Mim plans to use her MS Go for Gold scholarship to fund one on one consultations with Literary Consultant, Jacqui Winn, to improve her current story manuscript and ability as a writer.
“My mum demanded that I have hope and I did. I returned home, cared for my son who is now 17 and engage in daily assisted exercise which keeps me strong and increases my chances of living my best life.”
Elise's dream is to continue studying for her Master of Information Studies degree with sufficient resources to do so.
After 10 years out of the workforce raising children, Elise has returned to study to pursue her dream of working as a librarian or related information professional. Elise's family only have the one working computer available in the house.
"While I am studying, my children cannot use the family PC to do their homework. I am unable to work anywhere other than at the computer desk and cannot participate fully in online classes as I have no camera or microphone."
Studying for Elise can be very difficult given the limitations of her current working environment and set up. Elise will use her MS Go for Gold Scholarship to purchase a MacBook Air laptop that is light, easy to move around, has a built-in camera and microphone, and is reliable.
"I dream of being able to make a positive impact on others and completing these studies will allow me to fulfil that dream. My children will see that even someone with a long-term disability can reinvent themselves. "
Ever since Louise was in primary school, she has had a passion for creative arts.
Louise was diagnosed with MS at just 23 years of age and has lived with the disease for more than 30 years. Ever since Louise was in primary school, she has had a passion for creative arts.
"When I produced something for someone that made them happy, I left like I had accomplished something."
Louise has decided to take up water painting as it is more forgiving on her fine motor skills and the supplies are easier to transport and set up than other forms of art.
The MS Go for Gold Scholarship will help Louise increase her water painting kit in the hope to perfect her skills and enter her artwork into art competitions. "I think deep down I would be really proud and chuffed if I entered into an art competition and had my art displayed with other accomplished works."
“Historically I have been reluctant to learn new tasks, change careers, change companies, take on new roles because of increasing cognitive load and this affects my mood and fatigue. Art is different, the self-directed creative time actually calms my mind and shuts out negative head talk.”
Anna's dream is to share her artwork with others while also raising awareness and vital funds for people living with multiple sclerosis.
After being diagnosed with MS in 2015, Anna wanted to set up an art studio to raise money and awareness for MS. Already an artist, designer, and illustrator, she was able to launch her website in June 2021 and has already managed to raise $1,000 for MS Australia.
Anna plans to use her MS Go for Gold scholarship to fund the marketing of her artwork on social media, which will help increase her reach and studio recognition. Anna is also ensuring that all profits from her artwork will be donated back through to MS Australia.
“This in itself helps the MS community, and also helps start a conversation with people that are commissioning my artworks and gets them talking about it with people they know.”
Lee's dream is to be able to go for a bike ride independently and with her family, to improve her fitness, confidence, and mental wellbeing.
Lee's fitness has suffered significantly since being diagnosed with MS in 2019. This has caused her confidence to decline and her mental health to suffer daily.
"I can't walk too far, especially on my own, and swimming is difficult if the water is warm. I carry extra weight so many activities are difficult and quite often dangerous."
Purchasing an e-trike would mean Lee could spend more time with her family, especially outdoors, which is something that is becoming harder. She would not have to worry about her balance being off, tripping over objects or getting too tired to get home, allowing her to gain back some independence.
“I want my life to be positive again. I want to feel good about myself and hopefully in the process gain my fitness back, lose weight and be confident as a mother, wife and friend.”
Debra is deeply passionate about photography and would love to learn more about the art of photography.
For the past 25 years, Debra has been able to incorporate her photography skills into her swim teacher position at her local school. She joins in on the classroom excursions and activities and captures every moment on her camera. She is also the official photographer for her family as they know she will get the best shots!
Debra is deeply passionate about photography and would love to learn more about the art of photography. With her scholarship, she will be enrolling in an online camera education course to improve her skills.
“The Go for Gold scholarship would give me a realistic start to achieving my dream. Having MS has been a journey and journeys do not always go as planned. They can take longer than expected, but I have never given up on my dream.”
In her twenties, Patricia was a keen bike rider and used her bike as her main form of transportation but unfortunately due to her MS, Patricia is finding it more and more difficult to ride her bike. MS has affected her balance, energy, and stamina.
With the MS Go for Gold Scholarship, Patricia is now able to purchase an e-bike and go on family bike rides with her husband and their two young sons. Once she becomes more confident on her new bike, Patricia would like to commute to and from work and use it as her main form of transport like she did in her twenties.
“I'd like them to see that while their mum has MS, it doesn't mean that she has to stay at home and miss out on the family fun!”
Nikita's dream is to open her own private counselling practice.
Recently completing her Diploma of Counselling and Communication, Nikita is ready to start setting up her business and will use her MS Go for Gold Scholarship to help kickstart this process.
Since being diagnosed with MS, Nikita struggles with fatigue. Being able to work for herself will allow for Nikita to manage her energy levels, family life and financial stability being a single mum.
“Working an 8-hour day is very tiring for me, and if I was able to work shorter hours over more days, I believe that I will have a better shot at managing my work, family and health.”
After seeking the support Nikita needed in her own life, she was inspired to help others navigate through challenging times.
“I felt as though I had been through a lifetime of trauma in a few short years. After seeking support and getting back on my feet, I decided that I wanted to be a counsellor. To help others in their own lives would give meaning to my life and to the hardships I have endured.”
Steven was diagnosed with MS at just 16 years of age and has had to explain to his children that MS is his "friend for life".
After having these tough conversations with his children, Stephen decided that he would write a children’s book to help young children understand multiple sclerosis better.
“The greatest motivation is to be able to help children deal with their family member who has MS to live a more informed and inclusive life with their parent.”
“As a father who has MS with two young children, my motivation is to provide all children who have family members affected with MS answers to what MS is in very children friendly language.”
Steven's book A Conversation About Multiple Sclerosis With My Family is available by contacting him directly at [email protected] or from Angus and Robertson, Fishpond, Booktopia and Dymocks.
Marta's dream is to take her family to the Queensland theme parks and "see their big smiles and relaxed attitude, because there is nothing to worry about except having fun."
This holiday will be Marta's big thank you to her two boys and husband who give so much every day, and the opportunity to create joyful memories as a family.
“I want to be able to go on as many rides as I can with them, whilst I can, I want them to remember fun things with me, not just all the help they had to give! ”
“The care, inspiration and sacrifices her family have made is what motivated Marta to apply for a MS Go for Gold Scholarship. ”
“My boys are the reason I get up every day, it is for them and for my husband that I want to achieve this goal. They are always there for me on my hardest days and are the reason I am still standing, literally at times.”
Sally is a devoted mother to her two children, Georgie and Kyle and her dream is to be able to go on a bike ride together as a family.
Due to Sally's decrease in leg strength and endurance, the only way she would be able to join her family on their bike rides would be with an e-bike.
“I rode this bicycle at the shop as a trial. For the first time in years, I was able to ride a bike without getting so tired so quickly.”
“It will give me happiness and make me feel more included and like everyone else. It will reduce the impact that my MS has on mine and my family's everyday lives. Being active through bike riding will also help me manage my pain and improve my muscle strength, endurance and aerobic capacity.”
Heather's dream is to be able to come home and make tasty and healthy dinners for her family once again.
The MS Go for Gold Scholarship will help to purchase a Thermomix to help make this achievable.
Before Heather was diagnosed with MS, she loved cooking and had a particular passion for baking.
Heather's main MS symptoms is the loss of feeling in her hands and feet, while also suffering from fatigue. This has made it increasingly difficult for Heather to enjoy cooking and learn new skills in the kitchen.
“After I finish work, I don't have the energy to come home and cook a good dinner for myself and my family. On the weekends I often don't feel like exploring my creative passion of baking.”
“Achieving my dream of getting back into the kitchen would not only help me become more able again, but it would lessen the brunt on my husband and family, [help me] regain my independence and bring back my creative freedom.”
Jayne loves making pressed flower art and is passionate about teaching and helping others. Recently she has decided to combine these two passions and would like to run free flower art classes at her local community centre.
These classes will facilitate the learning of specific artistic techniques and methods to the wider community through group classes she hopes to run once a week at the local community centre. Jayne plans on teaching others who have a disability; the art of pressing flowers, so they too can also receive an income.
“The scholarship would help me have a stronger sense of dignity and make me feel like a valued member of the community. It would help the unemployed and disabled feel a sense of achievement.”
Megan was diagnosed with MS two years ago and experiences headaches, fatigue, eye pain and brain fog. Due to these symptoms, Megan has struggled to find an exercise routine that is suitable for her.
Megan recently participated in a free Pilates trial and "instantly felt the benefits both physically and mentally", however a Pilates membership costs more than $100 a month.
The MS Go for Gold scholarship will enable Megan to sign up for a year at her local Pilates studio.
“Having the opportunity to continue doing something that makes me feel good mentally and physically has a positive flow-on effect to my everyday symptoms of fatigue, headaches and brain fog.”
Alecia has lived with Primary Progressive MS for over 6 years and experiences constant pain and body spasms.
When Alecia is in a sensory deprivation tank she feels a relief from these symptoms.
These floatation tanks help Alecia improve both her physical and mental health and an MS Go for Gold Scholarship will enable Alecia to spend time in the floatation tanks every week for six months.
“It would enable 'me time' without the weight of holding my body and the pain that goes with it. Just to have time out for myself to not have to think about it and be able to relax would feel self-empowering to have that time to just be me.”
Every week, Janet photographs the scenery around her and when she gets home, she turns those photos into beautiful paintings and drawings.
While painting, Janet likes to imagine that she will one day be able to share her paintings with others who have a disability and others that may not be able to visit these areas.
The MS Go for Gold scholarship will allow Janet to restock her art supplies and ensure she is able to create high quality pieces of art to share with her friends and family.
"Being creative promotes a sense of achievement and mental peace and harmony with what I call my Zen time while I paint and draw. This emotionally and spiritually stimulates a sense of tranquility, serenity and wellbeing in myself and others."
Silas has dreamt of taking his wife and three kids on a camping holiday since he was diagnosed with MS in 2012.
He has loved camping from a young age however has not been able to do so since his diagnosis. He is excited about purchasing all the right equipment and having the whole family involved in the trip.
“Camping is something that we can all help set up and make my dream a reality.”
“I dream that my family doesn't miss out on doing things with their dad due to my disability. I want to provide opportunities and memories for our family.”
Samuel has always had a passion for creating hip hop music and since he was diagnosed with MS, he has had to cut his workload which has resulted in an abundance of spare time.
He has written song lyrics down in notebooks however is unable to create any tracks yet due to his limited resources.
Samuel has already invested in recording equipment to be able to write his own music. However, his computer is over 15 years old and unable to download the required recording software.
Samuel will use his MS Go for Gold Scholarship to purchase a new Mac laptop which allow him to have access to the best recording systems available.
“If I could feel like I was being creatively productive I wouldn't be feeling the overwhelming sense of uselessness I've experienced since I've had to stop doing so many that has brought me happiness.”
After being diagnosed with MS, Clare was worried about what her future may look like.
After researching multiple sclerosis, Clare decided to help others with their diagnosis and released a podcast titled 'MS Understood'.
"I had almost three years of living with this disease, and I was now in the position where I could offer support to others who were in the position that I was in."
Clare's ability to earn an income has also been affected by multiple sclerosis. The MS Go for Gold Scholarship will fund Clare's podcast marketing material to attract sponsors.
“This scholarship will be able to fund branding and professional photography. This would help my podcast and personal branding come across as more professional and therefore more desirable to work with and sponsor.”
Beth's dream is to go back to university and study counselling and psychology.
Beth is currently working as a cleaner and carer for her husband. Since being diagnosed with MS, Beth experiences extreme fatigue, pain, and other MS related issues. Cleaning has previously granted Beth the flexibility to manage her fatigue and other symptoms while also being her husband’s carer.
Nowadays, Beth finds being a cleaner tough on her body and is struggling with the work. Beth believes that working in a counselling role would not be so physically exhausting, whilst also being mutually rewarding. As her children are now older, she feels that she is ready for this career change.
“I am in a position to dedicate time and energy to study and to start to make my dream a reality. I have a keen interest in mental health and long to be able to provide support to those who battle.”
Gurdeep has had a fear of water since he was 15 years old when he nearly drowned in a pool. As a result, he has never learnt to swim.
After being diagnosed with MS in 2019, Gundeep has experienced many symptoms including extreme cognitive problem, balance issues and fatigue, and swimming would be able to assist mitigate some of these symptoms.
The MS Go for Gold Scholarship has inspired Gundeep to learn to swim properly and overcome this fear. Gundeep will now be able to attend 80 swimming lessons and partake in this amazing opportunity for both himself and his family.
“I am a 50-year-old father of two teenage sons. My wife is the sole income earner for the family. The ability to be financially supported to undertake swimming lessons would be an amazing opportunity for both myself and my family.”
Elizabeth's dream is to reconnect with her long-time passion of playing the piano.
Before marriage and children, playing the piano was part of Elizabeth's everyday schedule.
Since having four young boys, juggling shift work, and running a household, Elizabeth has forgotten to invest in this joy she once had. The finances are no longer there to afford a piano as the children's needs always rest above her and her partner's own for the most part.
Elizabeth believes that having a piano will also benefit the whole household from the music being played whilst allowing her to be a "happier and more joyful mummy."
“Stress impacts my symptoms negatively. I can see that having a piano in the house will allow me to release tension and reduce stress which will greatly impact my symptoms of MS for the better.”
Colleen has always been passionate about the arts, however after being diagnosed with MS, she has found it more and more difficult to set up her craft supplies due to her constant fatigue.
“I just want to be able to enjoy something and create things without being exhausted and not just spend time in front of a TV because I am too tired to do anything.”
Colleen's dream is to be able to set up a permanent arts and craft working area in her home that includes a work bench, storage, and a fume extraction fan. Having this space will enable Colleen to be more independent.
“...a little space to call my own, where I can work without assistance or (feel like I'm) interrupting anyone, I would not feel as guilty about something that give me pleasure as it would not impact on others.”
Arlene has been making patchwork quilts since she was just 10 years old and dreams about turning this passion into her own business, Bellamy and Bay.
Alongside her daughter, Arlene would like to create heirloom and high-quality children's clothing made with sustainable materials.
To start Bellamy and Bay, Arlene needs to purchase a new sewing machine. Even a second-hand machine is a large investment. However an MS Go for Gold scholarship will enable her to purchase the sewing machine and start working on her dream.
Receiving this scholarship will allow Arlene to give back to others and would like "to use a portion of our profits to make exquisite clothing to donate to our local hospital to support families".