Brashinger: Comedy night will benefit MS research
By Ginger Brashinger Citizen Journalistfirstname.lastname@example.org June 21, 2012 12:58PM
Sylvia Kemp stands at the top of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in France in March. Her goal to climb the 303 stairs of the Cathedral took 40 minutes, about twice the time of the average climber, due to her MS. | Supplied Photo
Updated: July 25, 2012 6:10AM
Sylvia Kemp of Frankfort is working now so future generations won’t have to suffer the debilitating symptoms of multiple sclerosis, something she faces every day.
“I think maybe I’ve become the spokesperson in the area because I want to raise awareness,” Kemp said. “My dream is to find a cure.”
To that end, she is adding a new method of fundraising for research. Kemp’s latest endeavor likely will be one of the most upbeat of the efforts in which she has been involved, and maybe one of the few times she can sit back and relax.
Ken Sevara, a partner in the CD & ME comedy club in Frankfort, has organized “Stand Up for MS,” a comedy show featuring local talent with national credentials, at 8 p.m. Fri., June 29, at CD&ME, 23320 S. LaGrange Road.
Sevara will emcee a full evening of comedy featuring Mokena’s Brian Hicks and New Lenox’s Mike Toomey. With Sevara hailing from Frankfort, the Lincoln-Way area is well-represented.
“This is going to be a great show,” Sevara said. “Brian and Mike didn’t hesitate a minute when I asked them to be part of this. We all feel good about doing it.”
All three entertainers are donating their time, and CD & ME owners Chuck JaBaay and Dean Vaundry are donating all proceeds to the “MiSsion Possible” support group with which Kemp has been affiliated for more than a year.
Kemp doesn’t know what kind of crowd to expect, but she hopes people will attend to have a great time and to support those suffering from MS, a chronic, often disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system.
Kemp said she doesn’t believe a cure can be found in time to help her, but that doesn’t diminish her passion for helping others.
“I don’t want future generations to face what I have faced,” Kemp said, adding that since MS is not a genetic disease, “it can happen to anybody.”
Kemp is facing “secondary progressive” symptoms, which were discovered when she didn’t recover well from a five-hour back surgery unrelated to her MS.
Because she was aware research was not being done for the secondary progressive stage of the disease, as it is for relapsing-remitting symptoms, Kemp decided to raise funds toward that goal for the National Multiple Sclerosis Association.
She has raised awareness and funds through her participation in four major marathons: Air Force, New York, Boston and Chicago.
For five years, Kemp has helped make the St. James Annual Gala, the hospital’s flagship fundraiser, a success through her work with the silent and live auctions.
Kemp personally brought in $19,000 of $30,000 raised by her support group team for the MS Walk in May.
Kemp recently focused on how MS has affected her life. She said as a young nurse at Children’s Memorial Hospital, already diagnosed with MS, she didn’t have what might be normal feelings of concern about her health.
“I really couldn’t feel badly about my diagnosis because a lot of the children I was working with were dying,” Kemp said. “How can you feel bad for yourself?”
If you want to have a good time and support a good cause, attend “Stand Up for MS.” Chances are, you’ll have a really good laugh.
For ticket information, go to www.cdandme.com or call (815) 469-7315.