Local woman, business plan fundraiser for MS

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published April 5, 2017

 Mark Nordhaus and his wife, Tanya Nordhaus, stand together during a past fundraiser event, Bike MS: Great Lakes Mid Michigan Breakaway.

Mark Nordhaus and his wife, Tanya Nordhaus, stand together during a past fundraiser event, Bike MS: Great Lakes Mid Michigan Breakaway.

Photo provided by Tanya Nordhaus

FARMINGTON — When you’re getting your car fixed, you’re usually hoping that the mechanics don’t find more problems with your vehicle. 

But if you are Farmington Hills resident Tanya Nordhaus, you’re thinking of ways to end multiple sclerosis.

That was her thought process last November when she was getting her vehicle repaired at the Farmington Garage, 33014 Grand River Ave., soaking up the ambiance —  a retro, high-tech, cozy atmosphere dubbed “rustic chic,” with a large fireplace and some ’50s-style decor. That’s when she decided that the location would house her MS fundraiser.

“I was in here getting my car fixed and looking around at how beautiful the facility is and thinking, ‘This would be a great place for (a) fundraiser,’ and then the light bulb went off,” Nordhaus said.

Nordhaus, who has MS, said she wants to help end the autoimmune disease through “An Auction to End Multiple Sclerosis,” to be held 6-9 p.m. April 29 at the Farmington Garage; auction proceeds will go to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Michigan Chapter. 

The event is going to be catered by The Cheese Lady Farmington, Jim Brady’s Royal Oak, Sunflour Bakehaus, and Ideal Bite Catering of Farmington Hills, according to a press release. Music is going to be performed by local artists, including Rosie Burns-Pavlik, Megan Cromwell and students from Axis Music Academy. About 100 people are expected to attend the event.

Nordhaus said she was diagnosed with MS in 2001, but she “probably had it a lot longer.” 

According to the NMSS, its mission is to stop MS and “restore what has been lost in those with MS.”

According to a press release, about 18,000 people in Michigan have MS.

Ironically, Nordhaus began raising funds for the NMSS when she was 17 years old, 10 years before she was diagnosed.

At the age of 21 in 2001, Nordhaus lost her ability to walk, or even crawl, without falling over, according to a press release. 

On Feb. 20, 2001, a neurologist told her she had MS, and while she was using a wheelchair, she told him that she would still participate in the local annual Bike MS rides through the NMSS. She pointed to a picture of herself crossing the finish line at one of the events and told the doctor she will do it again.

Five months after the diagnosis, she relearned how to stand, walk and ride a bike, and she participated in the fundraiser — and has every year since. Her goal is to raise $25,000 this year for the NMSS.

Nordhaus said she wants to bring awareness about MS because a lot of her friends don’t always know what MS is, even when she is quite vocal about her condition and how it affects her.

“But for people to know me and not know what it is, I need to get out there and be more educational about my message about what MS is,” Nordhaus said.

She added that she has “pins and needles” sensations along the right side of her body and her left hand.

“Like it is asleep,” she said, adding that it happened in 2001 when she was riding her bike and she lost all sensation in her right hand.

“I couldn’t use the break, couldn’t change gears and still had 50 miles to go, and it was really difficult,” she said, adding that she has recently regained a little bit of feeling in her hand, and a lot of her function in her hand is from muscle memory.

She added that she can feel the bottom of her left foot, but the pins and needles feeling is “pretty strong.”

Nordhaus added that she feels that she is losing sensation in her body and it is “not something you want to happen to you.”

Farmington Garage owner James Snider said his business is promoting the fundraiser with customers.

“There will be food in different areas, drinks,” Snider said, adding that the business, which opened last summer, was redesigned and reconfigured with the community in mind.

“One of the things we kept in mind is (we) wanted to do things for the community with events like this,” Snider said.

He said the high-top tables, work stations and other Farmington Garage accessories are all movable to open up space.

Nordhaus said a number of individuals have already donated gift cards, while some donated handmade, embroidered towels.

Nordhaus said she has a great support system in her husband and her father, and the Southfield-based MS society, which keeps her motivated and hopeful for the future.

“The MS Society is putting so much money into it that I have a lot of hope that there is going to be a cure for it,” she said.

Event tickets cost $50 each and can be purchased at anauction toendms.eventbrite.com.

Businesses can donate items or services through April 21. Offerings currently include a limited-edition Detroit Bikes bike and a guided bike tour of Detroit for up to 12 people. VIP host sponsorships are available.

To contact Nordhaus, email EndingMSAuction@gmail.com. Follow fundraiser updates on Twitter @EndingMSAuction.