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As the Chicago area volunteer director for the Myelin Repair Foundation, a non-profit organization charting a new direction in medical research to improve the lives of people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Bob P. Gregory ’78 spends 50 hours a week coordinating the activities of MRF in the Midwest. And when he’s not making calls, writing letters, and attending various benefits and meetings for MRF, Gregory teaches Sunday school and acts as registrar, scheduler, and village liaison for his town’s youth sports organization.

His over-achieving character is something that amazes many people. What’s more amazing is his ability to manage such a full schedule while battling MS and its devastating effects.

Gregory knew something wasn’t right when he began tripping while training for his third marathon in 1990. It was then that he was diagnosed with MS, a disease that affects the central nervous system. While the news wasn’t good, Gregory was optimistic that he would be like the majority of MS patients with very slow progressions.

His case wasn’t like most, however, and within five years Gregory was unable to walk and had to leave corporate life. The love and support of friends and family have enabled him to lead a fairly normal life.

“We do more than make the best of it,” he says. “We spend an inordinate amount of time going to [my daughter] Christine’s soccer games, going to exercise classes, and we go on vacation to ski at the National Sports Center for the Disabled at Winter Park.”

His work with MRF is another factor in continuing a “normal” path. He cites the three biggest rewards of his efforts as control, hope, and appreciation.

“Control [is a reward] in that I’m doing something more proactive than feeling sorry for myself,” he says. “Hope, not only for my bright future and others with MS, but in watching the light bulb go on for these big donors when they realize what a significant impact they’re making in many people’s lives. And the feeling of appreciation and support I get when friends send a note, call, or get on an airplane to visit. Most of the people who donate their time and money do not have MS. It’s amazing, selfless dedication.”

In addition to all of the time he spends volunteering for MRF, Gregory has led the top fundraising team for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s MS Walk in Illinois for three of the last four years, raising over $125,000. He is also working in conjunction with Laura Reilly ’92, Washington, D.C. area volunteer director, and others to support development of treatments in this generation.

“I have a picture of me in my scooter next to a statue of Franklin D. Roosevelt in a wheelchair that I continually look at to remind myself of the things you can do if you want,” he says.

A biology graduate, Gregory received his master’s degree from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He credits Lafayette for numerous lessons he’s found valuable over the years.

“Getting the broad-based education that Lafayette offers has its payoffs,” he says. “You’re able to take advantage of more opportunities than would be obviously apparent from one’s major. Lafayette prepared me for a lot of unknown scenarios, and most importantly, I’ve learned we don’t do anything alone. The relationships I started in Easton expanded and will last a lifetime.”

Categorized in: Alumni Profiles