January 28, 2019 marks the five–year anniversary of Tom Sherak’s death. Tom Sherak was my dad, my champion, my hero. He loved me unconditionally and with all of his heart and soul. He did everything he possibly could to keep me safe and healthy.
You see, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) 31 years ago at age 15. My dad didn’t know how to help me. He couldn’t control what was happening to my body: numbness, fatigue, blurry and disappearing vision, lazy foot, vertigo, muscle fatigue, just to name a few symptoms.
So he put all of his energy into what he could control: raising money. My dad raised money to find a cure for MS and enable everyone affected by this disease to receive adequate healthcare and services. It was all about quality of life. My dad got that. He saw how I thrived with a good support system and access to programs, services, and good doctors. If I thrived, so would other people suffering from MS.
For those of you who knew my dad, you knew that he was the “Master” fundraiser and that it became his life’s mission to help me and everyone else with MS. When he asked, you gave! He reached out to you every year and asked for your support. He did it religiously, until the day he passed away. If he wasn’t asking you to help the MS Society, he was inviting you to contribute to a foundation that he, my mom, and others formed at UCLA—the MS Hope Foundation, later renamed in his honor the Tom Sherak MS Hope Foundation.
The mission of the Tom Sherak MS Hope Foundation is to support innovative, person-to-person programs and services, and to fund leading-edge research. This organization was built from the unconditional love of a father for his daughter. It was a foundation built on hope.
“Give until it feels good,” my dad would say. He asked and you gave, every time. You knew what he was going to ask before he said “hello.” He loved calling you because you never let him down. For more than 25 years he reached out to you, raising more than $44 million for MS. Five years ago, the calls stopped. Could the Tom Sherak MS Hope Foundation survive without its leader?
The past five years have been rough for me. My body is not bouncing back like it once did and my search for miracles is often clouded by frustrations and fears. But I refuse to give up. I won’t give up. I can’t give up. I promised my dad that I wouldn’t give up. I promised that I would stay positive and help others in need. Like many of you who must be missing his phone calls, I feel his loss—as a champion of endless, unconditional love.
I often ask myself, “What would my dad say to me? What would my dad do?” After sitting alone for a while, it came to me: he would reach out to all of you—all of you who never let him down and gave year after year to support his quest to make life better for me and all those affected by MS. You are the answer. You are the angels. It is you who give hope, and it is I who will now be making the yearly calls. I hear my dad’s voice in my head, “If you don’t ask, they can’t say yes.”
So, here it goes! Tuesday is GIVING TUESDAY, and the Tom Sherak MS Hope Foundation needs your help. Please give online at: https://giving.ucla.edu/mshope. Give until it feels good! With your support, we will thrive and continue to help those suffering from MS.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you!
Melissa Sherak Glasser