Vote down MS

When I was 7 years old, my mom was diagnosed with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis, but I never actually realized what was happening to her. I was a young kid with a normal mom who just happened to have MS. However, when I was 15, my mom came home from an appointment with her neurologist, and I finally understood what MS was. For the first time I could remember, my mom’s MS had progressed, and there was no way I could stop it.

No one wants to see anyone suffer, but it is especially hard to know your mom struggles every day with a disease that currently has no cure. My mom has always been – and will continue to be – one of the strongest and biggest inspirations of my life, but realizing what she deals with everyday motivated me to do more. I started asking what I could do to ease the burdens my mom faced. I helped more around the house. I let her hold my arm when she felt unstable. But I still couldn’t change my mom’s MS.

During the past year, I’ve had a couple of opportunities to affect the future of MS. On two occasions, I met directly with members of Congress or their staff, and I’ve participated in a meeting with White House staff members. The second opportunity was a little more subtle. Last November, I checked a few boxes, sealed an envelope, and sent my voice to our government. Last November was my first election as an adult. When you turn 18, you become a part of the American government. When I mailed my ballot in, I felt the power I had to drive change, no matter how small it may seem. I no longer felt powerless in the face of MS. I highly encourage everyone to vote in every election, especially young and new voters. Together, we have the power to end MS through the vote.

As ridiculous as it seems, I changed government policy with that one vote – and no matter what anyone says, one vote matters. Each election determines the policy for the next cycle. My one vote could elect a pro-research representative, who could be an ally to the MS cause. A single vote might not change the outcome of an election, but my vote shows I care about the policy. Even if the candidate I vote for loses the election, the number of losing votes pressures the winner of an election to consider the philosophy of the loser.

Every vote influences the ideology of our government. Every office determines policy. Every election at every level is important.

There are billions of people on this earth who do not have influence over their governments. Don’t waste your opportunity. You can control American policy through the vote. You can voice your opinion with one vote. And when we all vote, We can end MS through government funded research, changes to the medical system, and support for the disability community.

If you want to do more or are younger than 18 but still want to be involved, talk to your local politicians. Ask to meet them in person. When politicians see a young activist, it sticks with them. A young activist shows the seriousness of the issue and separates you from the flood of activists they see every day. Also, today’s politicians are on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media; so reach out to them. Currently, the MS Society is using #whenyourparenthasMS. Let’s flood social media with stories that force politicians to remember the MS community and the challenges we face every day. Be the change, be visible, and be involved. Our generation can be the generation that ends MS. Please join me and use your voice.

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Jacob

Jacob Quasius

Jacob is a sophomore history major at Lycoming College and plans to either teach high school social studies or go to law school/graduate school for public policy. His mom was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when he was 7 years old, and he first became active advocating with the MS Society when he was 13 years old. Since then, he has participated in the Public Policy Conference, met individually with members of Congress on issues affecting the MS community, and was selected for the Youth Leaders in the Disability Community Roundtable through the White House Office of Public Engagement. Being an MS activist gives him the opportunity to change the outlook of MS for the community and for his mom.

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    13 Comments

  • Lynn Chambers   Sep 22, 2015 10:41 AM
    Thank you, Jacob. You are a role-model for all of us. I have had M.S for 32 years, and I have 2 daughters. They have learned, by experience, that through empathy, patience, love and action they can make a difference in my life.
    They, like you, are examples of making a change through actions in the community.
  • Becky   Sep 22, 2015 10:42 AM
    This is an awesome post! I was just diagnosed a few years ago, but looking back there were symptoms for a long time. And it was my daughter who saw it, and felt the impact on her childhood and life. It is hard for a Mom to feel like a burden to the child she wants to protect and help. But when my daughter steadies me as I walk, or says "I understand" when I start crying over a small thing....it means the world to me as a Mom. I am just sure your Mom is very proud of you and as a fellow citizen voter, yes every vote counts. The only wrong choice is to NOT vote. Thanks for sharing your courage and heart with us.
  • clarabelle84  Sep 22, 2015 11:24 AM
    You are an incredible son, Jacob. Thank you for being so concerned, considerate, attentive and helpful man for your mom and the rest of us dealing with MS. Your activist work is very much appreciated by me and I know the rest of the MS community.... Thank you again for all you do.
  • Gerri   Sep 22, 2015 11:28 AM
    You are a wonderful man. I applaud your participation, your compassion and reaching out to others. God keep you in his stronghold.
  • Susan Wojcik   Sep 22, 2015 8:34 PM
    I'm proud of you Jacob on so many levels. You and your mom are wonderful, special people. Keep up the great work! Hugs to your mom.
  • BJ   Sep 22, 2015 11:02 PM
    Jacob, what a power you will be in the classroom influencing your students to participate in government. Like you, they can make a difference. Keep up the good work.
  • raegun67  Sep 23, 2015 1:10 PM
    All I can say is THANK YOU!
  • earthstarr3  Sep 24, 2015 8:01 AM
    Thank You Jacob! Thank You For Making Change..Being So Considerate..For Being An Activist. I Have Had MS Over 20 Years And I Have One Son Who Is So Encouraged By Your Activism. You Are An Awesome Son!
  • Samantha   Sep 25, 2015 5:28 PM
    You continue to be an advocate for your mom and all of those who have MS! I'm so proud of what you do and to be able to call you a fellow advocate! Praying your mom is doing well! My mom and sister are doing well : ) See you in March!
  • Trasy Morgan   Sep 26, 2015 11:13 AM
    My mom passaway . she had ms. now I have ms .what do I do
  • smartypants   Sep 27, 2015 7:48 PM
    Jacob, your story was heart warming, what a good son you are for your mom. All we need is for someone to hear our story and know that having MS isn't the end of life. Most people with MS live only 7 years less than someone without MS. You sound so intelligent and an old soul for only a sophomore in College. You have a gift. I was so happy to see that you went to Washington. Last year i had filled out a survey from the Center for American Progress and was called from our senator Wyden's staff to try to get me out to WA to talk with the Senate Finance Committiee on how quickly i got my SSDI and my positive experience the process was. But it fell through, they would have had to make all the arrangements in one day and i was so disappointed, as i too have a story. I would have loved to talk to other Congress people. I worked 35 yrs in service to people with disabilities and was forced to retired due to progressive MS. So i was at home and decided to clean out a big closet and found my journals from when i first came to OR (from WI) and worked out in the forests of the Wallowa Mts, as a timber survey, inventory forester. Living in our tents we moved through the deep, remote forests of the Wallow Whiteman National forest. In a camp of mostly men, who teased me relentlessly, i soon became known as "The queen of the comeback". Well i started reading and chuckling and decided to write three books, which i published, they are all in one paperback book 'The Eve Chronicles" by Diane DeVillers (miss smartypants herself. Check out my amazon author page. What a hoot, i never would have had the time to write three books, as i was quite the workaholic , but through having MS it opened new doors, i now have the time to do advocacy for disabled, write letters to my congress people.
    I know your mother is so proud of you, i hope she gets the home support she needs for and if she needs it or her MS warrants more support. You do her proud.
  • Nancy Northcutt   Mar 25, 2016 9:36 AM
    Great job Jacob. Enjoyed reading your story.
  • Skip Friggle   Jun 18, 2016 12:48 AM
    What a wonderful tribute to your Mom that shows not only your deep love and concern for her but others who suffer with MS. Through your proud and dear Grandmother who I Bible study with, I've heard her many accolades of the great young man you are. After reading your heart felt words of encouragement to others to be an advocate at any age and the rewards the MS community can benefit from the advocacy that you champion yourself, I can only agree. I applaud you in your endevours of changing the world of MS, the quality teacher the children of our future may hopefully have to influence their hearts to emulate your passion and compassion for those who struggle with life-altering diseases. Or if you choose to work in the trenches of Washington DC personally for the advancement of much needed research and cures for MS and other horrific, under funded diseases, I have complete confidence that you will succeed even beyond your own expectations. God bless you Jacob in all your endevours.