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It was the early 1990's, and Bob Gregory was thriving in Corporate America. As a director of marketing for a division of Baxter Healthcare Gregory was a patron of the "art of the deal," and had long since perfected the high-energy tactics needed to thrive in business.
Then his body turned against him. Gregory was diagnosed with an aggressive form of Multiple Sclerosis. He soon found himself relegated to a wheelchair. It was a big change for this self-described Type A personality.
"My brain and voice were still in fast motion," Gregory recalls. "The question was how to avoid feeling sorry for myself."
The answer was volunteering. He was asked to teach Sunday school. He joined the board of a local youth sports league. Later he raised money for the Myelin Repair Foundation (MRF), a non-profit medical research foundation working to improve the lives of those with MS. Gregory loved the organization's mission and its innovative research model, and has been a Volunteer Area Director ever since.
Gregory's job as a volunteer requires many of his old skills. First he identifies individuals who are affected by MS or interested in innovative medical research models, and then he pitches them on donating. To date, MRF has raised nearly $14 million toward their $25 million goal.
Working with the people at MRF is the best part of his job, says Gregory. "It's a brilliant group, and what's even more astonishing is how humble and down to earth everybody is." The worst part? "Cold-calling busy people."
Gregory appreciates what networks like VolunteerMatch can do to connect people who want to make a difference. "Everybody knows someone with MS or another disease that can benefit from programs like those at MRF. [VolunteerMatch] gives us the opportunity to be one or two contacts away from someone with genuine interest," he said.
Today, Gregory continues to volunteer for other community-oriented causes, something he says would be the case even if he was back on his feet. "It's more satisfying than anything a paycheck could bring."