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Kathleen Wilson

Connecticut native Kathleen Wilson first hit Eugene in the mid-80s, when she took a marketing job at Williams-Wilson autos. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when she lost her eyesight overnight in 1988. "It took a year, but I recovered," says Wilson, who went on to open a small ad agency in San Francisco. She was pursuing photography in Greece when she began to notice numbness in her right hand and ankle. "I came back to the US in a wheelchair in June of '95," she notes. "By the fall, I was able to walk, but I felt horrible." She bought a Mac in October to search the web for MS support groups. "I found nothing, but I knew in my heart that this would be the way to help people," says Wilson, who began to look into online chat rooms. "On July 10th of '96, I had 10 people in my own chat room." Eight years later, her initial chat room has grown into MSWorld, a website (msworld.org) with multiple chat rooms and message boards that attracts 10,000 visits daily. "We have 32 volunteers who run the site, all of them with MS," says Wilson, who moved back to Eugene four months ago. "Our motto is 'Patients Helping Patients.' People can find someone to talk to 24/7."


happening people

photograph and story by Paul Neevel

Eugene Weekly / 25 March 2004

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