COVID-19 won’t stop Farmington Hills girl from fundraising for MS

By: Jonathan Shead | Farmington Press | Published June 11, 2020

 Amelia Nordhaus practices running in place in her backyard to prepare for her fundraiser, Amelia’s Little Workout for MS, on June 20.

Amelia Nordhaus practices running in place in her backyard to prepare for her fundraiser, Amelia’s Little Workout for MS, on June 20.

Photo provided by Tanya Nordhaus

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By now, announcements of large events or gatherings being cancelled due to COVID-19 have become all too common. 

But 8-year-old Farmington Hills resident Amelia Nordhaus wasn’t ready to give up on her annual summer fundraiser to support multiple sclerosis that easy. She still wanted to host a fundraiser to help her mother, Tanya — who has MS — and many others diagnosed with the disease. 

With plans to host her fourth annual Amelia’s Little Bike-a-Thon for MS on hold, Amelia turned to technology for some help, and her new event, Amelia’s Little Workout for MS, was formed. 

MS is a chronic disease that damages the sheaths of a person’s nerve cells in their brain and spinal cord, which can cause numbness, impaired speech, impaired muscle coordination, blurry vision and severe fatigue.

“Because we couldn’t do the bike-a-thon this year, we still wanted to do something active, and that’s what we came up with. … I still really wanted to raise money, to help you,” Amelia said to her mom. 

Amelia plans to host her Little Workout for MS event at 9 a.m. June 20 online via Zoom. It will include two 15-minute exercise circuits of jumping jacks, running in place, sit-ups, wall sits and more led by Amelia. All funds raised from the event will be donated to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. 

“I think it’s a great example of the imagination somebody can have,” Michigan’s National MS Society Director Tammy Willis said of Amelia’s event. “When she came up against challenges with what she’s done in the past, the cause remained just as important. … I think her determination to not let the challenges stop her is really admirable.” 

Each child is required to fundraise a minimum of $25 by June 30 to participate in the event. The person with the most funds raised by the deadline will receive a trophy, and a running tally will be posted online to motivate people to raise as much as they can before June 30, Tanya said. 

Other prizes, medals and certificates will be given away at random throughout the 30-minute exercise. 

Tanya said she plans to provide a brief educational moment to teach participants what MS is, and some of the symptoms and physical limitations she lives with, before the workout begins. 

“It’s nice to get them moving and seeing what their bodies can do, because a lot of people with MS can’t be that active.”

Having raised over $4,000 for MS the past three years, Amelia hopes to tack on another $2,000 this year, and she’s well on her way with over $300 so far, Tanya said. 

“$2,000 would be great, but really we’re just happy people want to participate and do what they can do to end MS.”

Amelia is simply glad she can still fundraise. 

 

Going virtual has its benefits 

While Amelia may not be able to physically join alongside all her friends this year, the Nordhaus family has found some benefits to hosting the event online. 

“We’ve had people that we know have wanted their grandchildren or children to participate in (our events) but it’s just been too long of a haul to get here. Now that we have this online activity people can do, people can join us from California or Canada and they can participate,” Tanya said, adding that she’s had interest from people as far away as Japan. “It’s really nice to be able to include all kids, versus just kids in our area. Although we do miss the bike-a-thon.” 

Tanya anticipates the number of participants will double from what they’re used to in past years.

Willis said she’s seen benefits arise from a greater focus on technology at the state level too. Whether it’s families gathering to bike together, hosting 24-hour cycling events on Zoom, or patients having greater access to primary care or support groups, the support hasn’t stopped. In some cases, it’s grown. 

“It really does open it up, and really there’s no borders any longer around. It’s all about that personal connection and being able to support those people you know who live with the disease,” she said. “Amelia is an example of that.” 

More information for Amelia’s event can be found at her Facebook page, “Amelia’s Little Bike-a-Thon for MS.” Donations can be made at http://main.nationalmssociety.org/goto/AmeliaN20. To RSVP, email BikeAmelia@gmail.com. 

Call Staff Writer Jonathan Shead at (586) 498-1093. 

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