WILLIAMSBURG — Williamsburg residents Lydia Mayo and Theresa Calabrese have at least two things in common. They both live with multiple sclerosis (MS) and they’re doing everything they can to fight back against the disease.
Their latest effort is a fundraiser at Panera Bread locations in Lightfoot Marketplace and New Town on Friday, May 20. For all online ordering and in-person ordering from 4-8 p.m., Panera will donate 20% of the pre-tax sales to Walk MS.
“Since the first day, Theresa has handled her MS diagnosis with grace, courage and dignity. She’s truly an inspiration to all who are lucky enough to know her,” said Carter Sonders, Theresa’s longtime friend.
Lydia and Theresa became part of Walk MS very soon after their diagnoses. Lydia’s Legs debuted in 1999 and Team Theresa came on board in 2016. Both teams consistently place in the top 10 fundraisers and have developed a friendly rivalry.
“I joined Team Lydia’s Legs the very first year Lydia formed the team over 20 years ago! Over time, I felt so helpless watching MS progressively take away Lydia’s freedom to live the way she truly wanted,” said Suzanne Perl, a longtime friend of Lydia.
“Despite the losses, Lydia kept a positive attitude. Her desire to stay positive inspired her to participate in fundraising for MS research, and I joined her team to demonstrate my support for her,” Perl said.
All proceeds from the fundraiser night will be divided evenly between the two teams and both team captains are hoping for a great turnout. Both women are always looking for an opportunity to raise money and awareness about MS.
One of the hashtags for Walk MS is #togetherwearestronger. Lydia and Theresa are living proof of that.
“I’ve watched this friendly rivalry grow over the years and because of their motivation, we now have 23 disease-modifying drugs, where we only had 11 when I started working for the National MS Society 10 years ago, and we now have a causal link between Epstein Barr Virus and a later MS diagnosis,” said Clare Lorio, Senior Manager for Walk MS with the Virginia-West Virginia office of the National MS Society.
“These two women have helped fuel that progress and it is because of people like Lydia and Theresa that we will find a cure for MS,” Lorio said.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information between the brain and body. MS is different for everyone, and that makes it all the more challenging to solve.
The first Walk MS event was in 1988, and since then more than $920 million has been raised for research and programs to improve the lives of people living with MS.