AFMS Foundation was established in August of 2019 by Jennifer Ganley and her husband Jeff. The mission of AFMS is to help families diagnosed with multiple sclerosis live a better life through financial support and medical advocacy. Every dollar raised directly benefits patients with multiple sclerosis.
Just one month before Jeff and I would celebrate our first wedding anniversary, I received the life-changing news that I had relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, an illness with potentially debilitating symptoms, that when exacerbated, presented me with numbness and tingling in my hands and chronic fatigue and pain in other areas.
When I was diagnosed, I was well aware of the effects of the illness. My mother’s best friend has multiple sclerosis. Growing up I saw MS rob her of more and more mobility. Initially, I was quite worried upon being diagnosed. All I could envision was living my life in a wheelchair and being cheated of what I wanted most which was to have a family and become a mother.
Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic disease of the central nervous system. It is an unpredictable condition in which symptoms can be relatively benign, or, in worse case scenarios, disabling. Some individuals with MS may be mildly affected, while others may experience various degrees of paralysis.
Immediately following my diagnosis, I began researching the possible risks associated with pregnancy and multiple sclerosis. I brought my questions to my neurologist Dr. Peter Wade, Director of Neurology at the Mandell Center for Multiple Sclerosis. Dr. Wade assured me that Jeff and I could still have a family, even in the face of MS. Jeff and I really wanted to stay with our plan and did not want my diagnosis to rob us of our desire to have a family. I made the decision to delay going on any medications until after we had our child. It was quite amazing almost as soon as I realized I was pregnant, most of my symptoms went away. Until then, every day I was reminded that I had MS. My symptoms were constant. However, pregnancy provided a reprieve from the numbness, tingling, pain and overwhelming fatigue associated with MS. Jeff and I were blessed to welcome our daughter Allison in December of 2013.
Initially I was apprehensive to share my diagnosis of MS with friends. When I finally felt comfortable the outpouring of support was moving and powerful. The news, difficult as it was to share has helped me reconnect with people with whom I had lost touch over the years. My diagnosis also continues to bless me with the most beautiful connections to others dealing with MS, mainly young mothers. We are all able to relate to each other and support one and other when needed. The words of encouragement and of support give me hope each day.
When I was diagnosed with MS in 2012 my family worked with a national organization to fundraise each year. As time went on, I noticed a gap in immediate available patient resources in our community. Patients with multiple sclerosis continue to be hopeful that one day a cure will be found. In the meantime, Jeff and I knew we could empower ourselves to immediately help patients on a local level with financial support and medical advocacy by establishing our own non profit foundation.
We decided to trust in the strong support that we had already established to form AFMS Foundation. We are passionate about helping patients who need it most. I continue to be blessed with the medical care and support I receive. We have formed partnerships with several MS treatment centers in Connecticut. Most insurance companies will not cover necessary durable medical equipment for patients. Should a patient need to upgrade a walker or wheelchair their out-of-pocket costs can range from $600-$10,000. A ramp to make a home accessible could cost in excess of $5,000.
Once AFMS was officially an IRS approved 501©(3) we reached out to people in our lives who had expressed a desire to help others based on their knowledge of our personal situation in living with MS. In doing so, we were able to create a diverse Board of Directors for AFMS to help advise us. We were gratified that the following people accepted our invitation to serve as our AFMS Board of Directors.
What We Do
The assistance we have provided thus far has covered a wide range of needs including equipping an automobile for handicap use, providing walkers and wheelchairs, as well as covering physical therapy costs and even as small as providing shower grab bars which are so essential for patient safety. Every dollar we raise is critical to fulfilling our mission since the needs so often vary.
Board of Directors
Jennifer Ganley – President & Founder
Jeff Ganley – Treasurer
Brooke Matuszczak – Secretary
Michael Branda – Board Member
Matt Chepeleff – Board Member
Albert D’Agosto – Board Member
Dr. Julian Esteban – Board Member
Andrew Gottlieb – Board Member