The official ambassador for the 2019 MSWA Albany Swim is Denise Amato, an Albany resident who is living with multiple sclerosis. Denise has shared her story, so that everyone can learn a bit more about her life and the reason she supports the MSWA Albany Swim.
Denise was leading a very busy life in 2011, running a small business with her husband and looking forward to future travel plans, when she started experiencing fatigue and muscle weakness in her legs and the left side of her body. This, she would later come to realise, was the beginning of her journey, after a diagnosis of primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS) two years later in 2014.
Denise has lived in Albany most of her life and has always been a very active member of the community, spending a lot of time outdoors walking, swimming and body boarding. And, one of the hardest things for her to give up, was her involvement in the ‘Granny Grommets’ – an over 50’s women’s body boarding group who meet every Friday rain, hail or shine. With the weakness in her legs and the constant fatigue, she found that she didn’t have the energy or stamina to continue with these weekly sessions. However, has promised her friends and herself, that she will be back to re-join everyone in the water soon!
Denise credits MSWA with opening so many doors for her, that wouldn’t have been accessible otherwise. Through MSWA she has access to support workers, physios and in-home care and has also attended various information days, workshops and retreats, one of which was in Denmark in 2016. The retreat helped Denise to think less about her condition and instead helped her to focus more on having fun and spending time away with other MSWA Members.
“The thing I value the most about MSWA is that for the past 4.5 years they have been the one and only constant in my journey. The facilities MSWA provide and the money they are contributing to research I know, from personal experience, make a real difference to the lives of ordinary people trying to come to terms with living with multiple sclerosis. I know that MSWA has me covered!” Denise said.
Denise has decided to set herself a challenge for 2019, and take a step outside of her comfort zone, by participating in the annual MSWA Albany Swim. She wants to give back to MSWA by entering a team in the event, helping to raise vital funds and raising awareness of the fantastic work that MSWA do in the Great Southern region. Denise said, “I have really valued the support I have received from MSWA, and I know that so many other people, like myself, have also benefited from this amazing organisation. This is my way of giving back and saying THANK YOU!”