By Brian MacKenzie
When I was a young boy, my days, like those of most boys my age, were filled with sports. Basketball, soccer, running—anything that kept me moving. Before my 12th birthday, however, those days came to a crushing halt. I was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis (AS), and my days playing high-impact sports were over.
While that was the beginning of a lengthy learning process about the disease -- not to mention my battles with spinal and hip pain, as well as hip replacement surgery just after I turned 27 -- it was not the end of my world. In fact, it was the beginning of a wonderful relationship with the Spondylitis Association of America.
The SAA is the largest resource in the United States for people seeking information about AS. For my parents and me, it was a godsend. Through the SAA, my family and I learned more about the disease, how it is treated, and how to cope with such a diagnosis. It also brought us together with other people suffering from AS so we could learn and draw strength from their experience.
The SAA provided my parents with a resource through which they could cope with having a son diagnosed with AS. For me, it has been an amazing resource that has allowed me to find the strength and understanding to live my life on my own terms. Now, it is my turn to give back to an organization that has given so much to me.
For many years, I have supported the SAA with an annual contribution, and I joined the Board of Directors five years ago, serving on the Fund Development and Finance committees, to help the organization raise the money necessary to continue its important work. Over the long-term, I want to invest in the SAA in ways that will benefit the organization into the future. Setting aside a legacy gift allows me to do that, and it means a great deal to me.
A charitable gift of any kind is a personal act. A planned gift, however, is about an individual's commitment to an organization. For me, it is making a gift to an organization that I know will be around for a long time, providing information to and inspiration for thousands of people with AS and their families. The SAA's mission is "to be a leader in the quest to cure ankylosing spondylitis and related diseases, and to empower those affected to live life to its fullest." I want that mission to continue and flourish.
For nearly 25 years, I have dealt with the effects of AS. Through my legacy gift, I am making a lasting contribution so future generations will not have to experience the disease in the same way I have. I want to help doctors, patients and researchers learn more about this disease. One of the best ways to further that goal is to make a planned gift to the Spondylitis Association of America, helping to ensure that those affected by AS are not alone—or without the resources necessary to cope with their disease.
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