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CELEBRITY'S MILLENNIUM CREW OPENS HEART TO THOSE WITH MS

Apr 14, 2005
April, 2005

On April 3rd, over 200 individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS) from 30 states boarded Celebrity Cruises’ Millennium at Port Everglades for the 4th annual MSF Cruise for a Cause®, an innovative educational and motivational program at sea hosted by the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation (MSF).

Many in the group required the help of care partners, while others used canes, crutches, scooters, and wheelchairs to navigate the 965-foot, 12-deck vessel. Despite these challenges, the MS group eagerly participated in the empowering educational program and countless social activities, finding comfort in the camaraderie of others with MS.

“My caregiver cancelled on me at the last minute,” said Millie Jones from Valrico, Florida. “At first, I had a lot of second thoughts about coming on this cruise alone, fear of the unknown. But everyone onboard has made me feel so welcome. Even though I came alone, I am not alone on this cruise. No one has been patronizing at all. I feel like a real person. I’m Millie, you know? I’m not just Millie with MS.”

By voyage’s end, the program’s positive impact on attendees was apparent to all, including the ship’s crew. Consequently, five hundred Celebrity family members, as the company refers to their onboard crew, representing 52 nationalities, took up a collection for the courageous people they met with MS and presented it to the MSF, amidst the resounding roar of a standing ovation, at the Farewell Reception.

“We have been inspired and touched by all of these wonderful people with MS,” said Marnix Overbeke, Celebrity’s Chief Concierge. “At all levels, we have been deeply moved by the positive attitude, the energy, and the friendly smiles of these people living with this debilitating illness.”

“All of us aboard Millennium were amazed by the life light that these people brought onboard. I can only imagine how much strength and power it takes to live with MS,” added Celebrity’s Onboard Event Coordinator for the MSF Cruise for a Cause, Veselina Vangelova. Also in attendance was Shannon Washbrook, Training and Development Manager, and Yiannis Voutsas, Assistant Hotel Manager.

“One hundred percent of this generous donation will be specifically earmarked for our national programs enabling individuals with MS to have a better quality of life,” stated Alan Segaloff, Executive Director of the MSF.

“It was the perfect ending to our cruise! Even those of us in scooters and wheelchairs made an effort to stand up, clap, and thank the crew for this incredible act of generosity,” said 29-year old Becki Barber, a wheelchair user who was diagnosed with MS at 16 and who attended the MSF Cruise for a Cause with her mother for the third consecutive year. “It really warmed our hearts.”

MS is a complicated chronic, neurological disorder that affects the central nervous system. About 65 percent of those newly diagnosed are between the ages of 20 and 40, but MS can appear in early childhood or after age 60. The most common symptoms associated with MS include fatigue, weakness, numbness, spasticity, tremor, vertigo, gait, balance, bladder and bowel problems, and visual disturbances.

The MSF provides free nationally accessible programs and services to the MS community. Its motto, a brighter tomorrow, signifies its commitment to enabling those affected by MS to improve their quality of life.

To learn more about MS and the programs and services available through the MSF, call 888-MSFOCUS (673-6287) or visit www.msfocus.org.