First Posted: 4/9/2009
WALNUT COVE When Valerie Dixon Watson was growing up in Walnut Cove, she had no idea that her life would take the path it has taken. In 2005, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Not being one to sit back, Watson became a self-advocate. Now she has expanded her vision.
I do anything I can, Watson said of her fight to eradicate this debilitating disease which affects over 400,000 Americans. She holds a part-time job but is now also a full-time volunteer advocate for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. She walks in MS walks, she meets with politicians, she speaks out to inform others of this crippling disease.
When I walk, I walk for myself and others, Watson passionately avowed. When I speak, I speak for myself and others. In 2008, the National MS Society even named her as the Volunteer Advocate of the Year.
Watson recently returned from the National MS Public Policy Conference in Washington, D.C. She was invited to return for the second year by the National MS Society. While in the nations capitol, she attended seminars from March 9-10 and then pounded the pavement on March 11, visiting local congressmen and women and other elected officials.
Some of the political officials Watson contacted personally were Sens. Richard Burr, Kaye Hagan and Brad Miller; Congresswoman Virginia Foxx; and Representative Howard Coble. The purpose for the visit was to discuss health care reform, starting a national disease registry for MS and Parkinsons, and asking for appropriations from the Department of Defense.
Watson stated: All of these efforts were to help those living with MS and other chronic illnesses. This was an exciting time to be in Washington, having my voice, along with countless others, heard.
Watson, also a full-time student at Forsyth Technical Community College majoring in human services technology, is a team captain for the upcoming 2009 MS Walk being held on April 25 in Kernersvilles Fourth of July Park. She, along with team co-captain Kimberly Dixon and other team members, hosted a hot dog and bake sale for their team, Team Victory, in Walnut Cove Saturday.
Watson plans to continue her crusade to find a cure for this often-disabling disease. She is sowing seeds of activism in her young son who sometimes goes with her to MS events, wanting him to be involved even now in making a difference in the world he lives in.
I want to bring awareness, support, and of course money to this cause, Watson said of her personal involvement. Although her purpose is a serious one, she faces it with an upbeat attitude and an innate confidence that she can indeed make a difference.