Alan Mandel

Alan Mandel

I am honored to be a member of such a special group of individuals who volunteer to work tirelessly to help all of us living with MS.   I became a Grandpa in 2008 and again in 2010, and my wonderful e Grandchildren, Samantha and Joshua, have changed Barbara’s and my life in the most wonderful way. This is what life is all about!

Now a little about my background and motivation: I grew up in Dallas, Texas and made a small decision that changed my life; I decided to go to college up North, met and married a wonderful girl from Pittsburgh, and the rest is history.

I earned several BS & MS degrees in Electrical Engineering and Business, worked in the electronic systems field for over 30 years; designing a variety of new products and developing new technologies for my employers, Westinghouse and Carnegie Mellon University, and picked up a few honors and 29 US patents along the way.

We raised two wonderful children, Allison & Michael, who have made us proud in all ways! In 2005 and 2007 respectively they married terrific spouses, and early in 2008 Barbara and I became happy grandparents.  We continue to look forward to the future of our wonderful extended family.

Life took a turn in 1995 when I was diagnosed with MS. I was quite healthy before MS, so this was a real shock. For a number of years, I tried to deny MS would affect my life. Eventually, I realized that my quality of life could be greatly improved with proper diet, exercise, family support, doctors and other healthcare professionals, organizations such as the MS Society, and especially from my fellow MSer’s.

I learned that walking with the help of a cane and an AFO (foot orthotic), and the occasional use of a scooter made life easier for me and, more importantly, the people around me. I started to transition my experience at innovation in business into innovative approaches to help others trying to cope with MS.  As part of this, I became involved in organizing several Town Meetings on MS, where well-known healthcare professionals interacted with a live audience of people living with MS. These programs were broadcast live on the web, then made available on DVD and archived on the Internet for later viewing by others coping with MS.  This was done around 2002 when this was quite pioneering work. In addition, my fellow MSer’s and I suggested exercise programs to the local MS Society Chapter that resulted in the launch of a “FitnessProgram” led by a Neurological Physical Therapist for people living with MS in the Pittsburgh, PA area.  I am pleased that this process has been replicated and expanded by the MS Society to three other cities in Western Pennsylvania. I hope the experience gained here can be expanded to other parts of the country.

Then, life took another turn when I met Kathleen Wilson, and since then life has never been the same!

Somewhere along the way, the concept of Patient Guided Outreach (PGO) was conceived, discussed, and tested in a limited way. PGO facilitates sharing the collective experience and resources of others living with MS to help each other get out of isolation and improve the quality of their daily living. In this endeavor, we will make referrals to other organizations (particularly the National MS Society) for access to services and other resources specific to the patient’s need.

This is a wonderful new phase in my life building on the past. I look forward to working with all constituencies to make PGO and “Patients Helping Patients” a reality for the benefit of people living with MS around the World.