She lay awake in her hospital bed. All around her, in the dead of night, the world slept. She couldn’t stop crying. She felt alone and terrified. But Michelle Hanley wasn’t feeling sorry for herself. Weeks earlier she had been diagnosed with MS and that night, with her body wired to bleeping machines, her only thought was for her two gorgeous children.
A short time later she was making two of the biggest leaps of faith anyone could make. First, she reclaimed her life, took back control. Second, she jumped out of an airplane at 10,000 feet. She was raising money for the MS Ireland. These two scenes – a moment at rock bottom and an exhilarating moment of feeling, literally, sky high – paint a portrait of this extraordinary woman. But there’s so much more to her.
“I remember the turning point so well. Up until that, I would wake up every day and think ‘How am I today? Have I any numbness? Am I unwell?’ And one morning I just went: enough! I’m not going to be defined by my illness. From now, everything changes.”
“The best phone call I ever made was to Patricia Lucey in MS Ireland. She was such a wonderful support. Every time we spoke, I felt a little more positive. She understood. To this day, I still contact her. MS Ireland opened up a whole new pathway back into normal life for me.”
Michelle had been through tough times. She had put on weight. Her self-esteem had taken a battering. So, she began to reclaim the amazing person she is. She reconnected. She lost two stone. She ran fundraisers for MS Ireland. And today, we’re thrilled that Michelle and her two children have become ambassadors for Readathon.
“I love Readathon. And my kids love it too. My daughter can’t wait for it to come around. My son absolutely loves reading. I think reading is hugely important for children. It’s a passport into so many worlds and characters. I was a massive reader growing up. I read all the Roald Dahl classics.”
We believe books are wings for children’s self-discovery to fly. And for us in the MS Society, Michelle Hanley is an angel – the skydiving kind.