Nani’s Ice Bucket Challenge – Raising Multiple Sclerosis Awareness

Photo on 2012-09-28 at 19.11 #2

Patty’s open letter:

Growing up I always thought Daniela — or how our family lovingly calls her ‘Nani’ — was a typical annoying little sister. She followed me around, repeated everything I said, stole my clothes and makeup, and fought with me over petty childish things. Against my wishes, Nani always insisted on hanging out with my friends whenever we got together. Being the too-cool-for-you older sister that I was, I allowed her to hang out with us under the condition that she had to pretend to be a rock in the corner. Any time she made a movement or sound, I quickly reminded her “rocks don’t move or talk!”

She eventually grew up to be a beautiful, friendly, and lively young girl. People were drawn to her big green eyes, her warm and engaging smile, and her kind personality. She fit in with my group of friends and they often joked that she was cooler than me and they preferred hanging out with her. I even started to reach out to her for makeup and hair advice! Then when I reached college, like most average college students I made some dumb decisions. Nani unconditionally supported every single one of those choices. I told her all of my secrets and often asked her to lie to my parents so I could get away with my dumb choices. Everything for her was an adventure, and every adventure brought us closer. That was when I realized that she was not a typical annoying little sister; she is a phenomenal woman and my best friend.

When she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) at the young age of 18, our worlds shattered. She was so scared and I felt helpless. Nani didn’t want her fear to take over, though she accepted it as part of the process of coming to terms with a disease. In a span of close to five years, MS took over her body. She began to lose her vision, sensation, mobility, even her speech and ability to process information. I didn’t know how to react while watching this happen to her, I couldn’t stop it. I was sad that my sister was changing, angry at friends and family for not spending more time with her, and frustrated that I had no control over it.

Ironically, Nani kept my emotions and me at ease. Although MS was taking over her body, it could never touch her spirit. My sister somehow possessed greater ability than anyone I know to have a positive outlook, remain hopeful, love every single person exactly as they are, and forgive without question. Her beautiful spirit calmed everyone she touched and let them know that in the end everything will really be ok. When she told me that her dream was to represent youth with MS and share how to be confident with yourself and your body with a disability, I encouraged her to record herself with her messages and to make art of her vision.

As we anticipate her awakening, I decided to help her get a kickstart to fulfilling her dream and sharing her message. With the support of friends and family, I am using all of my abilities to help the person I love most fulfill her dream. She has taught me that whatever ability you possess, even if it is only the ability to love, you use it to its full potential and share it with the people you love. Nani is my rock.

-Patty Rivera

For more on Multiple Sclerosis and how you can help please visit: http://www.nationalmssociety.org/Donate

Nani’s Ice Bucket Challenge – Raising Multiple Sclerosis Awareness was originally published on Senorhouses