Madison Speaks Up for MSBy Janet Di Lauro Posted: May 1, 2006
Among Martha Madison's (Belle) accomplishments since joining DAYS OF OUR LIVES, she is most proud of being named a national ambassador to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
"As someone who has a public platform, I can help educate people on multiple sclerosis — what it is, what it does, and how it affects everyone who has the disease or knows someone that does," asserts Madison. "It's a cause that has always been very close to my heart."
Madison knows all too well about the effects of multiple sclerosis, first hand. Her mother, Barbara, has endured the disease for over 20 years, and Madison has witnessed her mom suffer since she was a child.
"My mom has had several major attacks that hospitalized her for long periods of time," remembers Madison. "She's been immobile. She's been blind. She's suffered from Bell's palsy in her face. She's had to use a cane. She's had to use a walker. I've admired her strength and determination through all of it. Luckily, my mom is one of the few that pretty much recovered from a lot of her attacks. She is still mobile. However, today, she suffers from MS-induced dementia, which is similar to Alzheimer's disease."
Inspired by her mother's battle, Madison was eager to do something. So she asked DAYS' publicity department to contact the MS society "and tell them that I was interested in getting involved," recounts Madison. "They were very welcoming and excited to have me on board."
Madison attended her first event for the society last August. "It was their national convention in Atlanta. I got to meet all the people in charge and all the different ambassadors, including Teri Garr. She gave a great speech and talked about her book, Speed Bumps," recalls Madison. "That's exactly what MS does to your life: It creates speed bumps, and it's all a matter of how you look at them. Teri has a lighthearted take on the whole situation and recognizes that you have to add humor to your life or this disease could devastate you. She's a great role model for people with MS."
Madison's last event was right in her own back yard, so to speak. "I just did the local L.A. chapter MS walk on April 9. I put together a team called The Salem Sprinters and got all of my friends at DAYS and outside of DAYS involved," says Madison, citing her boyfriend, A.J., Kyle Brandt (Philip), Daphne Bloomer (Eugenia), and producer Roy Steinberg among the mix. "We all met up for the 5K walk at U.S.C. Our team ended up raising over $3,500. One of our writers at DAYS, Jean Marie Ford, [pledged] $500. She was our biggest donor."
While Madison's mother has yet to accompany her to an MS event, she hopes that will change, soon. "Hopefully, she'll get to go to the next big one with me. I've already asked her," smiles Madison. "My mom is very excited about all of this. I don't think she really expected that I would ever do something like this."
In the meantime, Madison's goal is to do whatever she can to raise awareness for the Multiple Sclerosis Society. "I want people to learn about MS and to understand that it could happen to anyone at any time," explains Madison. "Very often, MS is overlooked, because it doesn't affect millions of people. It affects hundreds of thousands of people. I want it to get the recognition that it needs in order the raise the funds that it needs to do more research. No one knows what causes this disease, and there is no cure for it. However, they have come up with some great medications that help stop the progression of the lesions on the brain. Thankfully, my mom has had no progression in two years."