The Colgate Connection

Michael Campaner

No matter where you are living or what your career is, there will always be a Col-gate person willing to help or knows some-one who can. During my senior year at Colgate University, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. Needless to say, it was a time filled with a lot of questions and uncertainty. Fortunately, my senior year roommate, Dustin Gillanders, knew Lacey Andreas. She was a friend from Dustin’s hometown and who has been living with MS for some time. Dustin put in me in contact with Lacey; little did I know at the time that a phone call six years ago would change my life.

I knew that I wanted to do more for the MS Society, and I especially wanted to help youth with MS. Lacey was highly involved in the National MS Society of Canada and dealt especially with initia-tives that helped youth with MS. Lacey mentioned a new group that was spear-headed by the drummer of the rock band Billy Talent and the National MS Society called Youth Against MS (YAMS).

The goal of YAMS is to give a voice to young adults. It provides meaningful op-portunities, guidance and feedback. YAMS also involves young Canadians living with MS in aspects of decision making for MS Society of Canada’s youth initiatives.

For the past couple of years, I have been highly involved in YAMS and trying to increase its influence across the coun-try. In addition, for the past two years I have been a peer support leader at the National MS Society’s Youth Summer Camp where youth from around the world come together for just over a week to get a break from reality and to be around kids like themselves.

Attending this camp has been one of the best experiences of my life. Also, YAMS has started a website called This website is an online community fea-turing blogs, chat forums and information for young people affected by MS.

What I learned while attending Col-gate has helped me immensely dur-ing my time at YAMS and at the youth MS summer camps. My education has taught me to think critically through the initiatives that we are trying to im-plement and ensure that we are mak-ing the right decisions. Furthermore, it has enabled me to challenge my-self and members of YAMS to keep moving forward and be better.

I have challenged the kids from the summer camp to become leaders, believe in themselves and follow their dreams. If it were not for my roommate at the time, I would have probably never been a part of this initiative.

As previously mentioned, there will always be a Colgate person that can help or knows someone who can help. All it takes is a simple phone call or email because you never know where that contact can lead. Colgate people are always willing help; this is a quality that is difficult to find and one that the university should be very proud of.