Melissa & Michelle's Story
Best friends Michelle Brookfield and Melissa Roche, both from Hobart, have banded together to raise awareness and much-needed funds for the 25,600 Australians living with multiple sclerosis.
Ms Roche was diagnosed with MS in 2013 and Ms Brookfield was the first person to know that something was wrong.
“When the GP told me that I had lesions in my CT scan, I went home stunned. Soon afterwards Michelle turned up to my house with drinks and pizza, and she was with me when I told my parents over the phone, as they live in Victoria,” Ms Roche said.
“Melissa was diagnosed six years ago at the age of 32, which has been a real challenge for her to live with,” Ms Brookfield continued.
Ms Brookfield and her teammates have since raised thousands of dollars for her best mate and other Australians living with MS.
Multiple sclerosis affects more young people than any other chronic neurological condition and the average of diagnosis is 30. It can strike anyone at any time and the symptoms vary dramatically.
At the 2019 event - Hobart Mermaids with Melissa Roche (front-row, far left) and Michelle Brookfield front-row right in glasses and cap). Photo Credit: The Hobart Mercury
At the 2018 Hobart MS 24 Hour Mega Swim, Michelle and her team the Hobart Mermaids, raised a total of $5,500, and this year they smashed their goal, raising $8,066 with their renamed team, Hobart Unicorns.
The MS 24 Hour Mega Swims help fund the MS Go for Gold Scholarships which are open to people living with multiple sclerosis, of all ages, who wish to achieve a dream. The scholarships can be used to achieve dreams from one of seven categories: The Arts, Education, Travel, Music, Sport, Employment and Lifestyle & Wellbeing. Each scholarship is up to $3,000 in value, depending on the circumstances.
Melissa was able to take part in the 2019 event because of her health. “I was still there supporting the team, fully-dressed up as a unicorn,” Ms Roche added.
“Our Mega Swim team wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for Michelle. It is a very special friendship that we have.”
“The support and encouragement from all my friends, family and workmates has been amazing. And this year many local businesses got behind our fundraising efforts which has blown me away,” Ms Roche continued.
“I have MS, but it doesn’t have me,” Ms Roche added.
Issy, who is part of the Monash Mutants, a team of 15 participants, will aim to swim collectively for a whole day and night at the Doug Ellis Swimming Pool at Monash University from 10am on Saturday until 10am on Sunday.
A keen swimmer and fundraiser, Issy has smashed her fundraising goal of $500 and has already raised $725!
Impressively, her team has raised over $3,000 that will go directly to people living with multiple sclerosis to fulfill a goal through the Go For Gold Scholarship Program
“I was so shocked to learn that the average age of diagnosis of MS is around 30-years-of-age,” the 20-year-old said.
It’s scary to think that it could seriously affect you in the prime of your life.”
Multiple sclerosis is an extremely challenging disease that affects more young people than any other chronic neurological condition in the country. It can strike at any time and the symptoms can vary dramatically.
“It’s been a while since I’ve swum competitively or leisurely and I’m a little bit nervous of what is ahead but it’s nothing compared to what people living with MS have to face every day,” Issy added.
Since 2016, participants of the Monash MS 24 Hour Mega Swim have raised close to $100,000.
Issy donated 10% of all her profits from her Rocks & Soul business to MS during September.
“I’m definitely looking forward to it. It will be a challenging experience but will also be lots of fun,” she added.
Peter Hart and the Hart Accounting team have proven that personal and professional networks go a long way when it comes to fundraising success. The team raised nearly $12,000 for MS as part of the Wodonga MS 24 Hour Mega Squash & Racquetball event over the past three years; increasing their funding every year and becoming the highest fundraising team in 2018, raising more than $5,200! “The whole team really enjoyed the experience. It was a great opportunity to get to know everyone better and as we all had that wonderful feeling of contributing to such a worthy cause, the end result was a bonding experience for all concerned” he says. Peter was personally generous with his self-donations and used his business to ask his clients for donations where possible. He says “I was really happy with the fundraising effort we managed, and it exceeded my expectations, thanks to many generous people, the format of the event and the resources provided by MS Mega Squash & Racquetball Team. All in all, it was a tremendous experience and one I hope to repeat for many years to come.”