Amber Morse may have a form of Muscular Dystrophy, but she’s not letting it run her life.
Proof that attitude is everything, the 27-year-old Kent woman has ice-skated, gone on airplanes, taken a trip to Hawaii and ridden a train. All the while operating from a wheelchair.
She’s also a diehard supporter and cheerleader for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the organization that helps MD patients with a myriad of needs – from being tested, to acquiring wheelchairs, braces and even sending kids to summer camps.
“The wheelchair has not stopped Amber,” said Pat Holmes, Amber’s grandmother, who lives with Amber. “I retired from Boeing to work for Amber. And she has me going to MDA events left, right and center.”
The next big MDA event is in Kent, so Holmes won’t have far to drive, this time around.
It’s the MDA VIP Lockup, and it runs 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 9 at the ShoWare Center’s club lounge.
With assistance from local firefighters, who “arrest” local people who’ve agreed to be jailbirds for an hour, the event is an upbeat way to raise funds for a disease that can have devastating consequences.
Candace Cusano, fundraising coordinator for the MDA Seattle district office, said each volunteer jailbird is working to raise “bail” of $2,000 – most of that through calling friends and supporters during their hour-long stay in the clink.
The lockup also functions as a luncheon, networking opportunity, and a way for the public to meet the local families that MDA serves.
Given the energy she pours in to helping with area MDA events, Amber is a veritable rock star in the organization.
“Amber is amazing,” Cusano said, noting the irrepressible young woman received an achievement award for her efforts in putting a face on the disease.
When asked what inspired her to become involved in MDA (she’ll be greeting people and helping out at the Kent event, too) Amber put it simply.
“Just getting out and explaining to people what their money is going toward,” she said. “It’s a chance to give back.”
Holmes was happy to chime in about one of the job perks.
“She also gets to meet hunky firefighters,” she said, noting Amber has hung out with local firefighters during the “Fill the Boot” campaign, an event where fire department personnel canvass city streets, asking drivers to drop monetary donations into the big rubber fire boots they’re holding.
The donations collected go to MDA to fund everything from patient needs to researching cures for the 43 neuromuscular diseases that fall into the catch-all muscular-dystrophy nomer.
Amber was born with an MD disease called Fredericks Ataxia. It’s a slowly progressing disease that attacks the peripheral nerves, affecting the person’s ability to balance, among other things, as well as heart issues.
By age 14, she could no longer balance well enough to walk on her own, and she also is dealing a heart murmur and diabetes, as a result of her condition.
But that’s not stopping her.
Amber likes to hang out with friends and go to the movies. She also likes to do swimming and working out with weights, when she’s not on the road for an MDA cause.
Amber’s spunk has inspired someone else, as well – her caregiver Angie Prisbey.
“It has completely and totally changed my life,” said Prisbey, of working with Amber and Amber’s family.
Prisbey also feels like she’s part of a bigger MDA family.
“Being part of an organization that does so much for research and for raising money to help families is a huge honor and a joy,” she said.
The MDA VIP Lockup runs 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 9 at the Kent ShoWare Center. It’s open to the public, and you’re invited to come by and learn about the organization, the local people it helps, and how you can be a part of finding the cure. Contact the Seattle MDA fundraisers (email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or call 206-283-2183) to help or for more event details.