The sky’s the limit

Michelle Amerie has jumped out of airplanes, swum with sharks, scaled mountains—and faced down multiple sclerosis. Along the way, she’s learned a lot about courage, risk-taking—and what really matters

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Although there is no guidebook or map to help Michelle navigate the course of her disease, there is hope. Michelle often says that the volunteer work she does for the MS Society is in her own best interest, that she is motivated by her own need for researchers to find a cure. And yet, when Michelle isn’t working for MS, she is volunteering for one of the many other organizations—such as the Transportation Action Now Committee and the Disabled Women’s Network—that benefit from her altruism. She supplements her monthly disability pension with some freelance writing, but she gives most of her time to her community.

Her commitments would exhaust anyone, and yet somehow Michelle finds the energy. “It is so important for me to live outside of the MS because I don’t want it to consume my life. It has consumed enough of it as it is.”

Just about anyone can relate to the threat of being eaten up by something dangerous—an illness, an obstacle, even a worry or a regret. But it takes a powerhouse like Michelle to know how to fight back. She models a two-part strategy: first, pound a fist on the desk and say, “I’m not going to give it everything.” Then sell something you don’t need and go skydiving.