Photo and text provided by Emily Reilly.
Eleven years ago, at age of 17, Emily’s life turned upside down when she heard the words “you have MS”. However, she did not let those words deter her passions. Despite her diagnosis she was able to become an All-American college athlete. This achievement showed her that MS didn’t have to stop her from doing what she loved. Through trials and triumphs, she pursued her dreams and goals, always refusing to let MS define her or determine her path.
Emily is a fitness instructor on the Air Force base where her husband is stationed. She is honored to have the opportunity to impact the lives of airmen/women and their families through fitness. Additionally, Emily teaches a modified fitness class for the MS community where she tries to inspire those living with MS to keep moving, no matter their limitations. Outside of work, she and her husband enjoy spending time together outdoors; they love to sail, travel, and make the most of wherever they are living.
Emily is quite active in the MS community. She has been involved with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMMS) North Florida Chapter for almost two years now. She was participating in a Fort Walton Beach Walk MS event when she first learned that there was a need for fitness education and programs for her local MS community. Emily collaborated with the NMSS to provide her community with the needed fitness program specific for individuals with MS. She is invigorated seeing how this program positively impacts her MS community and gives individuals hope that MS doesn’t have to stop them from living their lives. Emily says that, “having the opportunity to inspire, encourage, and empower the MS community has been one of [my] most fulfilling roles.”
Additionally, last year Emily was chosen to represent the North Florida Chapter on Capitol Hill at the Public Policy Conference. There, she had the privilege of being among movers and shakers who all share the same goals—having their stories heard, raising awareness about MS, and catalyzing change. Emily is returning to Capitol Hill this year with more courage and passion in hopes to see a world free of MS.
While at the Public Policy Conference last year, Emily was introduced to the MSRP. She was listening to Nancita Rogers, a MSRP consumer reviewer, talk about her time serving with the program. Emily was inspired by this experience, and she knew that she wanted to have the same opportunity for her voice to be heard. Also, as a spouse of someone serving in the military, Emily was elated to know that the DoD has a vested interest in MS research. Thus, she felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude when she found out that she was chosen to serve as a consumer reviewer on the Peer Review Panel for the MSRP. At first she was intimidated being in a room full of PhDs. However, as she voiced her opinions and critiques, the other reviewers nodded in approval and agreement. Emily found that, “this response was very humbling and affirming. This experience gave me confidence in the process, knowing how much they truly value the perspective of the patient. They want to hear our voices because our perspective and experience living with MS carry a lot of weight in [the peer review] discussions... I truly believe that through [the MSRP] and other research efforts we will see an end to MS one day.”
Emily wants the MS community to know that each individual has a story to tell and that connecting and sharing those stories gives the community the strength to keep pressing on. Each story has power to have a great impact on the efforts being made to see a world free of MS. Emily encourages everyone to let his/her voice be heard, because, “TOGETHER WE ARE STRONGER!”
Last updated Tuesday, September 15, 2020