You can cheer on Blitz (aka Ryan Asdourian) — and raise money to fight Multiple Sclerosis

Ryan Asdourian is very direct when he talks about having Multiple Sclerosis: “I’m in the early stages and have three lesions on my brain; not a day goes by that I don’t notice how it affects my body,” he writes in a recent blog post. It’s a huge change from when he first found out five years ago he had MS. For nine months, he told very few people, as he tried to grapple with the reality of having the degenerative neurological disease.

At that time, Asdourian was juggling two busy and rewarding jobs: One for Microsoft as a software engineer and manager and (he now works with the Developer & Platform Evangelism group); the second as the outgoing, bouncy, big-beaked Blitz, the Seattle Seahawks’ mascot who is beloved by fans. Asdourian is still juggling, but also added fundraising to fight MS to the mix, for several years now.

On April 12, his Team Blitz Pub Crawl will raise money for the National MS Society, Greater Northwest Chapter, and on April 13, Team Blitz will participate in the annual MS Walk in Seattle, as it has now for several years.

Last year, Team Blitz raised $80,000; this year’s goal is $100,000, and as of mid-week, more than $73,000 had been pledged.

The bigger picture? Since Team Blitz was started five years ago, “We’ve raised over $300,000 and now have a whole crew of volunteers,” who are mainly his “awesome” friends.

“The money that we raise together has impressive results and the MS Society has one of the lowest administration costs and uses the money to drive forward research, programs and help people in need,” Asdourian writes.

“When I was diagnosed, there were only four FDA-approved drugs on the market. There are now 10! Our progress is encouraging, but it is still incremental — these drugs don’t cure the disease and can have painful side effects.”

Asdourian also is on the board for the Greater NW chapter of the MS Society, where he says he works with people who “inspire me every day to keep moving us closer to the goal of finding a cure for MS.”

His own situation, he says, “has been difficult at times to cope with, but I am incredibly lucky compared to other people I have met and how this disease affects their daily lives.” Others struggle with fatigue, “they struggle to walk, they struggle with depression, they struggle with life.”

He is heartened by how many people have stepped up to help raise money to fight MS.

“Together, at the end of the day, we do this because we care about people who struggle to sleep, find normal walking difficult and can’t live normal lives because of MS,” he writes. “As always, thanks for your support, thank you for making a difference and thank you for helping me spread the word.”

Learn more about MS Walk, and to read more about Asdourian, head over to Microsoft Stories.

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Ryan Asdourian in Blitz mode.

You might also be interested in:

· Meet Microsoft’s master of high-tech showmanship
· #ICreatedThis: Microsoft employees and customers doing amazing things
· Microsoft’s Conor Kelly: Ironman at the office and outside of it, too

Suzanne Choney
Microsoft News Center Staff