By Kylie Noell
National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter Intern
GREENWICH, Conn. – Multiple sclerosis can rob families of much, too much sometimes. No one knows that better than Ronda Giangreco. Her husband, who grew up in Wethersfield, lost his mother when he was just 16 years old. The reason, complications associated with multiple sclerosis. To the couple’s surprise, years later, in an ironic twist of fate, Giangreco, too, was diagnosed with MS.
Giangreco will share her story at the 2013 Women Against MS (WAMS) Luncheon, to which she has been named guest speaker. The luncheon will be held Thursday, May 2, at The Hyatt Regency in Old Greenwich. The day begins with boutique shopping at 10 a.m. The lunch program will start at noon. Boutique shopping will resume after the luncheon, continuing until 3 p.m.
Giangreco will speak about her compelling story of living life in the face of multiple sclerosis, a potentially debilitating disease. A passionate “foodie,” she found peace in her kitchen. This passion, paired with her determination to move forward in spite of her illness, led her to establish what she calls The Gathering Table, a Sunday dinner for eight.
“I would triumph over MS one week at a time,” says Giangreco, 57, who now resides with her husband next to a vineyard in Sonoma County, Calif. “What had been predicted to be a year of loss was in fact the fullest of our lives.”
These Sunday dinners inspired her book, “The Gathering Table, Defying Multiples Sclerosis With a Year of Pasta, Wine and Friends.” Giangreco has since gone on to share her experience with audiences nationwide.
More than 6,000 Connecticut residents battle MS. Symptoms can include, among other things, numbness and tingling in the extremities, difficulties with vision and speech, stiffness in the limbs, and in extreme cases, complete paralysis. There currently is no cure for multiple sclerosis. Statistics reveal women are two times more likely to be diagnosed with MS than men. Funds raised through Connecticut Chapter events, such as WAMS luncheons, ensure ongoing scientific research to find better treatments and a cure. These funds also provide for the continuation of vital programs and services offered by the chapter.
Last year, the Fairfield County luncheon attracted more than 320 guests and raised over $120,000 for the National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter. This year, the chapter hopes to raise $120,000.
The 2013 Women Against MS Luncheon vendors include, but are not limited to, Betsy Grant Jewelry, Alex & Ani, Bulabula Fashions, Elegant Pots and Petals, Jewels for Hope, Krikett Pillows, Stella and Dot, Strands by Stacy, Suzanne Einstein Collection, Two B’s Accessories, and Yellow Sock.
For more information on the 2013 Fairfield County Women Against MS Luncheon or to reserve a seat, please visit www.ctfightsMS.org.
Kylie Noell, New Hartford, is currently a senior pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications at the University of Connecticut at Storrs. Noell, who is conducting a public relations internship with the National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter, will graduate in May.