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Blaine man who volunteered thousands of hours gets MS Society's highest honor

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The highest honor bestowed by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society has been given to a Blaine, Minnesota, man in recognition of his commitment to helping MS sufferers.

Bill MacNally was named National Volunteer of the Year at the society's recent leadership conference in Texas, commemorating "more than two decades and thousands of hours" he has spent "furthering the organization's mission to better the lives" of those with MS.

His efforts are particularly poignant given that MacNally himself was diagnosed with the neurological disorder 20 years ago, in the midst of his successful career as a health care executive. You can watch his acceptance speech here.

According to a press release from the society, his experience in the health sphere has proved an asset to the organization, and he used it to "affect change that positively impacts people living with MS," working to reduce prescription drug co-payments and negotiate with health plan providers on behalf of the society.

"When it comes to volunteer engagement, Bill truly leads the way," Holly Anderson, of the Upper Midwest Chapter, said. "His passion and dedication is evident in everything he does. There is no doubt that Bill’s contagious enthusiasm has surely brought us closer to a world free of the disease."

According to his LinkedIn page, MacNally – a University of Minnesota graduate – spent 25 years working with Allina Hospitals and Clinics until 2003.

His diagnosis changed his approach to life. In 2012 he told a federal medical program website: "No one dies wishing they had worked just a few more hours. When I was first diagnosed with MS, I had to change how I viewed life. God had given me a gift of time, and I had to decide what I was going to do with this gift."

"I have tried to approach life doing what I feel passionate about, and I feel that I can make some kind of difference in making the world around me in some small way better," he added. "It is easy to complain and feel sorry for myself, but when I see those less fortunate than me, I know how lucky I am and how much I can still do to make use of my gifts."

Multiple sclerosis affects more than 400,000 people in the United States, with most diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 40, according to Healthline. Symptoms can include vertigo, tingling and numbness, muscle weakness, spasms, problem with balance, and cognitive dysfunction.

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