Pam Suenram has three kids, a loving husband of 31 years, three cats and two dogs. She also has 20 years under her belt in Physical Therapy at St. John’s Hospital. To hear her talk about anything is contagious- the listener can’t help but become engrossed in her stories. Sometimes Pam has trouble finding the right words though, because she has Multiple Sclerosis, or MS.
Pam realized something was different when she was in her twenties. It all began with a blind spot in her eye, which she went to the doctor for. After she was diagnosed the MS slowly progressed, better at some times and worse at others. At this point Pam has had MS for over 26 years. She explains how MS works, talking about how the immune system attacks the fatty tissue protecting the central nervous system, leaving the CNS scarred which causes electrical impulses to distort and travel incorrectly, impairing motor function among other things. Pam is now in a motorized scooter and sometimes wears compression socks, cooling vests, wrist braces, and other equipment to help her stay comfortable and increase her mobility. All of this equipment can be extremely costly, especially for someone who can’t work, drive, or walk, and has no insurance coverage.
Through funding provided by United Way, United Cerebral Palsy has been able to assist Pam in securing necessary technology to help aid her mobility and increase her quality of life. She currently has a chair lift installed in her house so she can access her upstairs bedroom, a lift to get her chair into a vehicle she can travel in, and a computer designed with a special mouse and keyboard that operate off a joystick which is much easier for her hands.
Pam gave to the Salina Area United Way through payroll deduct when she worked for the hospital and is very humble about the technology that United Way funding now helps provide. Pam says she never realized she would need those funds herself. She talks about going to United Cerebral Palsy and getting fitted for her chair and checking out some of the new equipment they have. She says she never thought she would be able to afford some of the technology she now uses daily but has been able to through funding provided by United Way.
By 2015 to increase by 40% the number of persons who secure assistive technology or medical equipment through funding provided by United Way. To leverage $2 in outside funding for equipment for every $1 of United Way funding provided.