Through Walk MS, Severna Park Volunteer Supports Pathway To A Cure


Severna Park resident Mike Washabaugh is taking one small step for the multiple sclerosis (MS) community by hosting a fundraiser for Walk MS.

Washabaugh just turned 36. To celebrate, he started a 36-day fundraiser to support the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and Walk MS. From January 31 through March 6, he is seeking to raise $3,600 in 36 days by getting 100 people to donate $36.

Walk MS unites the multiple sclerosis community in the largest gathering of its kind to raise funds and make a difference for everyone living with MS.

“MS affects close to 1 million people (in the U.S.),” Washabaugh said, sharing statistics provided by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. “Since 1946, $1.1 billion has been invested to advance research. In my opinion, it’s not one of the most talked about or research-funded (diseases).”

The Severna Park resident has been involved with Walk MS for three years, but his volunteer service goes back to early adulthood. A Pittsburgh native, he later moved to the nation’s capital and spent two years with AmeriCorps. As a volunteer for City Year Washington, D.C., he tutored, mentored and supported inner city youth.

“Since then, I have been professionally involved in supporting and serving the underserved population, fighting for those who need a voice, and in this case, raising money for a cure to this disease that affects nearly 1 million people living in the United States,” he said.

That effort to help MS patients started after he pursued a master’s degree at Georgetown University. One of his advisors, Chartese Berry, suggested he volunteer for Walk MS. Berry is the president of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Greater Washington D.C. — Maryland chapter.

Berry joined the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society years after she was diagnosed with stage 4 non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 1999. Her advocacy with that nonprofit later inspired her to work for the National MS Society starting in 2015.

“Working with people living with MS or battling a debilitating disease of the central nervous system as I was, that has been fulfilling, but MS and cancer are not the same,” she said. “After six months of chemotherapy and radiation, I never looked back. I am one of the lucky ones.

“Unfortunately, with cancer, you win that battle or lose that battle,” she added. “With MS, there is no cure right now where we can get back what you’ve lost. It’s unpredictable. Every day is different, and how the disease presents itself is different from person to person.”

The National MS Society is focused on a three-pronged approach: research, programs and services for people, and advocacy. Those efforts, she said, will hopefully culminate in a pathway to a cure.

“We want to slow the progression … so a cure might mean that research reveals blood markers that identify people who might be at risk of MS,” she said.

The organization has about 20,000 MS patients in its database for the area that includes Maryland, Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. Being on the senior leadership and management team, Berry meets people all over the country living with the disease.

“I have grown to know and love them, and about a dozen are friends,” Berry said.

She has seen a similar response from Washabaugh, who has shown passion and enthusiasm in his role with Walk MS.

“When you meet people living with MS and see the resilience, because it is a fight, you just get hooked and think, ‘I want to do something. I have to help,’” Berry said.

Washabaugh also supports area youth through Martin Luther King Jr. days, school revitalization, community cleanups and a backpack drive supported by his employer, MedStar Family Choice, for which he serves as a community relations coordinator.

“They love it,” he said of MedStar. “We get pre-participation. They’re good about spreading the word and purchasing supplies and bringing them to our office.”

He and his team brought 216 backpacks to students at Watkins Mill Elementary School in Montgomery County and District Heights Elementary in Prince George’s County in 2023.

From sports to volunteerism, Washabaugh has learned valuable lessons that he shares through his work with youth and through Walk MS.

“In high school, I played sports a lot and it was friends and family working together for a cause. Through sports, I was set up for greater success and could see the bigger picture … not to look at people as different but see what we can do when we empower each other.”

Anyone can support Washabaugh by going to his fundraising page, which can be accessed by going to and clicking the “Walk MS” tab at the top of the web page.

The National MS Society holds walks from April through May in every U.S. state, with 10 walks for the Greater Washington, D.C. — Maryland chapter. People can start a corporate team for one of the walks or they can volunteer. To register to participate in a walk, find more information on the Walk MS page.


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here