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National Multiple Sclerosis Society Honors Pearlman

National Volunteer Hall of Fame inductee’s dedication praised.

Bruce Pearlman

Bruce Pearlman Photo by Susan Belford.

— According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, approximately 400,000 Americans have multiple sclerosis. Every week 200 more people are diagnosed with the disease — more than one person every hour — and there is no known cure. MS is an unpredictable and disabling disease of the central nervous system which interrupts the flow of information within the brain and between the brain and the rest of the body. MS literally stops people from moving.

Potomac resident Bruce Pearlman is determined to keep scientists moving in their research on the disease. He is also moving to do everything he can to help the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in a variety of ways. In honor of his late wife, Ellen, who died of complications of MS, he created a scholarship fund for college students affected by MS.

Due to his dedication and hard work, Pearlman was inducted into the National Volunteer Hall of Fame and is to be honored at the 2012 Holiday Celebration and Awards on Thursday, Dec. 13 at the Renaissance DuPont Circle Hotel in Washington D.C. He received the National Volunteer Hall of Fame award last month at the National MS Society’s National Leadership Conference in Dallas, Texas. Pearlman also received the Spirit of Service Award from the Marriott Corporation in 2009.

Pearlman first began volunteering for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, National Capital Chapter when Ellen was diagnosed with MS in 1981, one year after they were married. She was 28 years old and just beginning her career as an attorney. By the late 1980s, she had to retire, and by the mid-1990s, she required the use of a wheelchair to move around. She died in 2007 at the early age of 53.

“They say MS isn’t a killer, but it just wears you out,” said Pearlman.

Pearlman began participating in the Walk for MS in 1987, and over the years has continually raised more money, built teams, and encouraged more and more friends and acquaintances to get involved. He joined the board in 2002, and has served ever since as vice chairman, on the audit committee, delegate to the National Convention and in other ways. In 2007, he established The Ellen Carol Segal Scholarship Fund for students who are affected by MS because he recognized the financial burden that a family member with MS places on the family. The scholarship awarded one person $3,000 each year for four years and two other students for $3,000 for one year. “I’m pleased, because I got to see our first scholarship beneficiary graduate in 2011,” he said. “I plan to continue to fund the scholarship, because it means so much to these students and their families.”

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society provides support to the approximately 6,500 people living with MS in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area — and offers counseling, education, employment information and referral, public policy development and advocacy as well as financial assistance to people with MS and their families. They also organize fundraising events to support research into making the world MS free. For more information, visit www.MSandYOU.org or call 202-296-5363.