My Three Daughters: Perspectives on Having a Dad with MS

Editor's Note: This article was originally written by community member Steve.

In honor of Father's Day, this post presents my three daughters' perspectives on the good and bad of having a dad with MS.   As you will read, the girls view MS as both a blessing and curse.  They provide heartfelt insights as to the dissapointments and   inspiration they've drawn from having a dad with MS.     My daughters have been so kind and compasssionate as they've been part of a journey they did not choose to join.   So, enjoy their honesty and Happy Mother's and Father's Day to all.

My Three Daughters

Alex is 20 years old and a junior in college who is studying to be an art therapist for children with emotional disorders.   Her perspective on having a dad with MS:

Since the age of 2, I have had a father suffering from MS. I did not realize that such a disease existed until I was about 10 or 11 years old and did not fully understand what MS was at that age.    All I knew was that my dad had trouble walking, had to give himself shots in the leg every Friday night, and was sick every weekend because of the medicine. I remember crying often when he went on business trips because I did not know if he was okay. I was always afraid that he would fall and no one would be there to help him up.   I wondered why he was never able to play sports with me or run with me. I was upset that he had to endure such horrible things and could not grasp why it had to happen to MY dad.

As the years went on, I began learning more about the disease. I started using MS and my dad's story in papers that I wrote in school. It wasn't until high school when I realized that despite my dad having the disease, there was nothing my family and I could do about it, so all I could do was see it in a positive way. Even more recently, I've seen the disease as a blessing. My dad has switched to new medicine and is doing an amazing job of overcoming the obstacles MS presents. Before, he could barely walk and now he is running, biking, swimming, and can engage in practically any sport. He has been competing in events and is training for an upcoming full triathlon. He is my biggest inspiration.

Through his struggles, he has shown so much positivity, I could never completely be in his shoes, but I can imagine the difficulties. He has taught me that nothing is impossible, that the word does not even exist. I am so proud of him. There were days when I thought he would be in a wheelchair by the time I was in college, now I am half-way through college and I do not see any wheelchairs in his future. All in all, I have learned to look past the bad and see nothing but the best. I hope that many people can acquire from his experiences and be inspired by his success. I love you, Dad!

Alex in a Triathlon

Jackie will be a junior in high school (she is a twin with her sister Maddie) and is an active athlete who runs track and plays tennis:

Growing up with a dad that has MS has had many challenges to it. However, it has   brought many positive things into my life as well. I'm Jackie Moritz, Steve Moritz's 16-year-old daughter and, as mentioned, one of the twins. When I was little, it was hard for me to understand what my dad suffered from. My friends would always ask why my dad was limping, which I never seemed to notice. I'd try to explain that he had a disease that made him not be able to walk as well. They didn't quite understand it, but it was the best way I could describe considering I had very little knowledge of what was going on myself. It wasn't so easy.

I'll start out with the negatives and then conclude with the positives. When I was about 10 years old I used to have nightmares about our house catching on fire and my dad not being able to escape because he couldn't run. Some nights I wouldn't be able to sleep thinking about this. When he started to run again it was such a relief. Also, even though he did as many sports with us as possible and was a great coach, it was always hard to understand why my dad couldn't run with us or play soccer against us. Especially when all of my friends would be talking about the various sports activities they did with their dads. It was incredibly difficult to understand, but not all is negative.

Moving on to the positives, when  I grew to be older  I became more and more curious about what MS was. So,  I got an extensive knowledge on stem cells, MS, Transverse Myelitis, etc. I actually just wrote a paper for school on how stem cells could affect MS and Transverse Myelitis. I had to opportunity to meet so many smart and cool people through Project Restore, a research organization at Johns Hopkins Hospital that my dad is involved in. I have volunteered a lot  with another organization my dad is associated with:  Athletes Serving Athletes (ASA).   ASA provides disabled children the opportunity to participate in triathlons, marathons and road races.   I really love helping people wtih disability and want to continue when I'm older.   I became aware of and later involved in these causes because of my dad's condition.

One more thing is: I learned to appreciate being able to do daily physical things much more. I now understand that so many people in the world are not blessed with legs that can walk or run, or arms that can type or write.

Maddie is the other twin and she too is actively involved in athletics:

Having a dad who has MS can be difficult at times, but in the long run it has been the best thing that's ever happened to our family. My dad got MS when I was a baby so I've never not known him without this disease. I never knew my dad as the extremely athletic man that he was;  I only  knew him as the dad who would trip on sidewalks and was not able to run. But today it's a completely different story.

When I was about 10, MS began to take over my dad slowly. He began to trip more often and he was on a medication that often made him act in an unpleasant mood. I remember once when we were walking into a hotel and he tripped on a carpet heading to the door, everyone rushed over to help him but he was so frustrated with himself that he spitefully said to leave him alone. Although his moods and his falls have affected me, I can't imagine the hardships that my dad had to go through.

I'm so proud of my dad now, from coming from  being a person  who couldn't run to an athlete who can now compete in triathlons. My dad has given our family the opportunity to work with kids less fortunate than us and I  am so grateful that he could open our family up to these many organizations.  I get such a great feeling when helping children with disabilities participate in athletics.

My dad has shown me hard work and he has shown me that dedication is all you need to complete your dreams. I love my dad so much and am so grateful that he has taken control of this disease and has helped our family to realize how lucky we truly are. I wouldn't change anything for the world.

The Girls Helping in a Marathon