To kick off this year’s CMA Fest, Clay Walker held his annual Band Against MS/Chords of Hope event to raise awareness and funds for a condition he knows all too well — Multiple Sclerosis, or MS. Walker was diagnosed with MS twenty years ago, but hasn’t allowed the degenerative and damaging disease to interfere with his quality (or quantity) of life.
We were able to share some personal time with Walker prior to his event at Nashville, Tennessee’s 3rd and Lindsley, and we not only had our faith in Walker confirmed; we had our faith in humanity as a whole reaffirmed. That is the amount of impact one sitting with Clay Walker can have on your heart and soul.
The fact is, we can talk all day about MS and how much it breaks our hearts that people are suffering with an incurable disease, but what we want to talk about is how heroes like Walker can change the outlook of those who are affected daily by the associated symptoms. Not only has he made it a mission to open conversation about the disease that has changed his life; he has used his celebrity to enhance research in hopes of finding a cure.
To that end, Walker has held his Band Against MS event for eight years, not even remembering a time when it wasn’t sold out. He has also joined forces with major companies who have offered sponsorships, including Teva Pharmaceuticals, Shell Oil, Pebble Beach Company, and more.
You try to learn and do things that will help people who are affected by the cause you’re trying to help. We’ve done something better in the couple last years than we’ve ever done, and that is getting our hands on people who have MS. Being present. Doing bike rides, doing physical things, shaking their hands, just being with them.
For Walker, it’s less about suffering and more about living better with a diagnosis. As he explained to us, it’s difficult enough to wrap your head around a disease with no known cause or cure, so it becomes a matter of improving the lives of those who are dealing with MS and helping them have a positive mind frame.
You ask yourself “what can I do?” And for me it’s asking “how can you live better with MS, like right now? Right this minute?” And I think the way, at least the path that we’re on, is engage them, give them all of the really pertinent and responsible information that you know. . . . I think people appreciate that, and if you can be a hub or a source that provides that for people, I think it makes it a lot easier than getting on the [internet] and surfing all of the . . . misinformation.
Some of that misinformation can come in the form of a death sentence, which is exactly what those with MS immediately fear upon hearing the words “Multiple Sclerosis” escape a doctor’s mouth. Walker has found a way to restore hope in those who are instantly defeated by the diagnosis, and it is simply by providing real-life examples and three dimensional sources of good information.
The one thing you want to know when you’re diagnosed with MS is “is it going to kill me?” For the most part, no, but can it be very debilitating? Yeah, it can be very tough to manage. So I feel that Band Against MS has done a great job of helping people partner up with other people and other authorities about MS that can help them live a better life.
It certainly seems like Walker has never let his diagnosis stand in his way or get him down, but the fact is, finding this place of acceptance and positivity took work, support, and courage. Admittedly, it did also take a physical turn for the better to help Walker reach the place of mental contentment with his new way of life.
I think it was the no relapses. It really started building this confidence. I prayed a lot — I had a really good prayer life and still do — and I think having a thankful heart and the thanksgiving is part of it. Being grateful every day, that’s been my nourishing and nurturing the kind of mental mindset I have. That’s what you see.
We couldn’t be more grateful to be in the presence — both for a brief time and in this industry — with a man as strong, kind, giving, and forthcoming as Clay Walker. We wish him ongoing health, happiness, and success. He deserves all that and so much more.
To help Clay Walker raise awareness and funds for MS, a disease with no known cause or cure, click here.