The founders of Strikeout MS, Hilary and Amy Debelak, with their children Jack and Maggie, recently presented a check for $25,500 to benefit the University of Cincinnati (UC) Waddell Center for Multiple Sclerosis (MS), accepted by Aram Zabeti, MD, director of the Waddell Center, assistant professor of neurology within the UC College of Medicine and a UC Health neurologist.
Now in its third year, the Strikeout MS event was started by Hilary and Amy Debelak of Loveland, and is held annually at the Green Diamond Gallery in Montgomery, Ohio. This year’s sold-out event raised $25,500, of which 100 percent of the proceeds go to the Waddell Center to support education, mindfulness and wellness programs for MS patients and provide operational funding to support patient care coordination within the Waddell Center, which is part of the UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute.
Strikeout MS is dedicated to supporting organizations that work directly with the MS patient community. The last two years, Strikeout MS raised funds for the National MS Society, and this year, all proceeds went to support the Waddell Center.
"We looked into starting a fundraiser for MS, and we noticed current fundraisers often involve activities that people with MS themselves cannot easily participate in, so we decided to do something that we enjoy doing as a family. We enjoy baseball and are fans of the Green Diamond Gallery, so we asked, and the owners offered to donate their gallery for the event,” said Amy Debelak.
Along with other sponsors and a volunteer team of family and friends, Strikeout MS has no overheard costs to allow all of the funds raised to directly benefit the Waddell Center.
"Your donation is 100 percent going to Waddell Center, and we are now a 501(c)(3), and we ensure that (the funds) stay local – it’s really important that we keep them local,” said Hilary.
"We are so appreciative for this support,” said Zabeti. "MS is a very complex condition, and often insurance has limitations that prevent certain services for MS patients or makes them cost prohibitive. One of the services is patient education and goes toward a support group. We plan to put together lectures and seminars to educate and help our patients better navigate through this complex and life altering disease and learn more about how to manage it. Another service we plan to offer is wellness programs. Mindfulness, yoga, nutrition and many other services are currently offered by UC Health Integrative Medicine, but these services are not covered by insurance, and most our patients cannot benefit from them. Strikeout MS funds allow us to collaborate with Integrative Medicine and offer some of these services free or with affordable rates.”
Hilary Debelak recalls the exact date and time he received his diagnosis: Jan. 5, 2011 at 2 p.m. right at UC. "It was kind of a scary moment.” But his wife Amy was resolute that life wouldn’t change. "She said, ‘We will still travel; we will still do all the things we used to.’
"And as someone who’s been diagnosed may understand, you want to see how you can further support the cause, help find a cure, and support the community, and so after a conversation with Dr. (Joe) Broderick, we decided to support the Waddell Center, to give back to a place that’s been good to me and our whole family.”
Hilary says his kids, Jack and Maggie, also are part of the outreach for Strikeout MS to drive participation and sell tickets. And he credits the team at the UC Foundation as very instrumental in the event’s success.
Designated as a Center for Comprehensive Care by the MS Society, the Waddell Center cares for patients at four UC Health locations: Cincinnati, Dayton, West Chester, Ohio, and Florence, Kentucky. The Waddell clinical team is led by four neurologists, including Zabeti, who have completed fellowship training in multiple sclerosis. Waddell Center neurologists work as part of a multidisciplinary team that also includes a nurse practitioner, neuro-ophthalmologist, neuro-radiologist, urologists, psychiatrists, neuropsychologists, physical and occupational therapists and social workers. Clinicians and scientists combine comprehensive clinical care for patients with basic and applied research and innovative clinical trials.