Aspiring and seasoned leaders joined the National Multiple Sclerosis Society‘s annual MS Leaders Challenge with the goal of giving back to a great cause and helping change the world for those living with MS. Find out what the MS Leaders Challenge is all about and meet the top fundraisers who rocked it in 2021.
MS + the Society Behind It
If you’ve never heard of MS, here’s what you should know:
- Nearly one million people in the US are living with MS.
- It’s an autoimmune disease which causes the body’s immune system to attack its own tissues.
- It mainly affects the central nervous system.
- It affects women more than men.
- It begins between the ages of 20 + 40.
- It causes visual disturbances, muscle weakness, trouble with coordination + balance, thinking and memory problems, etc.
The National MS Society (NMSS) was founded 75 years ago to help those affected by this life-altering disease. Through research funding, centralizing info, providing resources or helping people live well with MS, NMSS strives to see a world free of MS.
Who took part in the 2021 MS Leadership Class? Here’s the full list:
Jennifer Adams (Encompass Health), Gaines Belcher (CommerceOne), Magic Bolin (Vulcan Materials Company), Emily Brown (Hoar Construction), Jamie Dabal (Children’s of AL), Hannah Deegan (Altec, Inc.), Tom DeLawrence (Balch & Bingham LLP), Ashley Foster (Big Communications), Eric Hess (Amazon), Sydney Jones (ServisFirst Bank), Banks Kinslow (Willis Towers Watson Southeast, Inc.), Charles Lewis (Hoar Program Management), Chad Pilcher (Balch & Bingham LLP), Jake Rogers (BBVA Compass), Destinee Sanders (Regions), Jason Sparks (BB&T), Carl Valentine (Gulf Distributing Company of Birmingham), Kyle White (Altec Capital Services LLC), Amos Scheafer (AirGas), Katie Bolton (Alabama Power), Will Connor (Meld Financial), Katie Fogg (Regions), Santi Hechart (Vulcan Value Partners), Hardie Kimbrough (Hoar Construction), Yvonne Maddalena (Jackson Lewis PC), Ladd Mark (Surgical Care Affiliates), Josh McDaniel (Willis Towers Watson Southeast, Inc.), Amanda McDaniel (Hoar Construction/Hoar Program Management), Coleman McNider (Vulcan Materials Company), Brittany Newell ServisFirst Bank), Jessica Porterfield (Hoar Construction), Elaine Prince (Encompass Health), Michael Raymond (Hoar Construction LLC), Russell Rutherford (Burr & Forman LLP), Elizabeth Wash (Southern Power). Photo via MS Society
Top 2021 Leaders Challenge Fundraisers
I’m no stranger to autoimmune diseases. I’ve been a Type 1 Diabetic for 28 years. I’ve had close friends with Lupus, Alopecia Universalis, Celiac disease and others. So I am beyond happy to share this list of Birminghamians who made the top 10 list of fundraisers who participated in MS Society’s 2020-2021 Leadership Challenge. They rocked the fundraising competition by raising funds, spreading awareness and helping change the word for everyone affected by MS.
Kimberly Jackson, 2021 Leaders Challenge Chairperson
Before we list the top 10 fundraisers, we have to give a shout-out to Kimberly Jackson. She served as the 2021 Leadership Class Advisory Council of the Board of Trustees for the MS Society-Alabama/Mississippi/Louisiana Chapter.
While she is Government and Community Relations Manager in Alabama Power Company’s Birmingham Division, she also serves on many organization boards, including:
- Board of Directors of Holy Family Cristo Rey
- Board of Directors of REV Birmingham
- Treasurer of the Board of Directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Birmingham
Now onto the TOP 10 Fundraisers from the 2021 Leadership Class…
When he’s not golfing or spending time at the lake, Carl Valentine holds the position of Senior on Premise Manager at Gulf Distributing Company of Birmingham. He also served on the 2019-2020 Young Professionals Red Cross Board.
Soon-to-be-mom of two, Elizabeth Walsh is a go-getter in business and nonprofit volunteer work. A few of her titles include:
- Business Development Manager of Southern Power
- Salvation Army Angel Tree Coordinator for Southern Power
- Member of the Alabama State Bar, the Birmingham Bar Association and Women of Renewable Industries + Sustainable Energy
Her reason for standing with the MS Society: her mother-in-law has been living with MS for more than 20 years.
Golfing, hiking and fly-fishing are just some activities Ladd Mark is involved in. He is General Counsel at Surgical Care Associates, is on the Board of Directors for Girls, Inc. and is a member of the Alabama Bar Association and Birmingham Bar Association.
His reason for standing with the MS Society: his mother-in-law lives with MS and is a patient of the MS Foundation in Birmingham.
Birmingham native and Alabama athletics fan Jason Sparks has a head for business. He’s a Portfolio Manager in Commercial Lending at BB&T Now Truist Bank and secretary on the Board for the Vestavia Hills Sunrise Rotary Club.
From the small town of Opp, Alabama, Sydney Jones is doing big things in the City of Birmingham. She is currently a Recruiter for ServisFirst Bank and serves as a Junior Board Member at the Wellhouse Rescue & Recovery Organization.
Active mom of five, Amanda McDaniel is Controller at Hoar Construction and member of the 2020-2021 Hoar Construction Leadership Council Class. But that’s not all. She also served as former Junior Board Member of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Big time lawyer, Thomas DeLawrence is not only Partner at Balch & Bingham, LLP, but he’s also received awards for The Best Lawyers in America, Mid-South, Super Lawyers and Rising Star.
He’s also involved in many organizations such as:
- Camp Fire’s Junior Board
- Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
- American Bar Association
- Alabama Bar Association
- Birmingham Bar Association
Dogs are at the heart of Brittany Newell. While currently Vice President and Credit Officer at ServisFirst Bank, she was formerly involved with dog rescues like English Springer Rescue America, Adopt a Golden Birmingham and a Greater Birmingham Humane Society rescue partner.
With a Bachelors of Science in Construction Engineering from the University of Alabama, Michael Raymond is now Assistant Project Manager with Hoar Construction. He’s also volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Birmingham Area and is an annual donor to the United Way of Central Alabama.
With a dual major in International Business & Commerce and Spanish from the University of Alabama, Eric Hess now acts as Client Lead, Corporate & Worldwide Operations HR with Amazon.
He also spends time volunteering for Lakeshore Foundation’s Junior Board and Hand in Paw.
Want to be part of MS Society’s amazing mission?
More on the MS Society is just a click away. Visit their website and follow them on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.