29 JUNE 2022

Stefan CondellowAn active young professional with a newborn baby, Stefan was recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

“Once I started researching MS it was quite eye-opening. I never knew how prevalent it was and that it’s a young person’s condition,” says Stefan.

10 Australians are diagnosed with MS every week and the average age of diagnosis is just 30 – the prime of life when many are focusing on their careers and building families.

Watching other’s experience with multiple sclerosis on social media helped Stefan to cope and motivated him to share his story. “Seeing others with MS on social media being active – running, weightlifting, playing sports – living as normal life as possible I felt like I owe it to the next person to raise awareness by sharing my story,” says Stefan.

Stefan is very competitive. When he saw he was in the running for top spot on the MS Walk Run + Roll fundraising leaderboard he was motivated to maximise his fundraising.

And climb the leaderboard he did! In 2022, Stefan finished at number one nationally on the leaderboard taking out the award for Highest Individual Fundraiser.

To achieve this, Stefan leveraged his networks in person and online to raise an incredible $6,862 for people living with multiple sclerosis.

“The football club interviewed me and posted on their social media. I had family and friends sharing the post. We also put up QR codes at the club for people to donate.

“I also got a couple of anonymous donations where people said my story helped inspire them not to give up with their own challenges,” says Stefan.

Stefan also called upon his digital networks to raise funds for the MS Walk Run + Roll.

“I also fundraised through a Pokemon Facebook group that I’m a moderator for. For over 10 years I’ve been a big Pokemon card collector. We ran multiple raffles to raise money where people donated prizes, and I also sold some of my own cards from my personal collection where I ran raffles and virtual races and had a portion of the proceeds go to MS.”

Through both of those strategies, Stefan raised an incredible $4,000.

Stefan says, “It’s about thinking outside the box.”

Stefan’s diagnosis came shortly after being diagnosed with Covid-19. After falling ill with the virus, Stefan began experiencing dizziness. Things then escalated quickly and it was clear this was more than Covid-19. He woke from a nap with the left side of his face paralyzed.

“My left eye wasn’t blinking, I was unable to raise my eyebrows and my smile was non-existent. I thought I was having a stroke. The last thing on my mind was MS.”

After hospital investigations, Stefan was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

His symptoms now include double vision, heat sensitivity, a cool sensation around his nose, eyes and lips, chest tightness, shortness of breath and muscle fatigue.

“I wasn’t able to work for the first six weeks of the year and was unable to drive for the first four months. When you’re going through it you think it’s not going to get better. I play football and love running, so it was burning me inside knowing I couldn’t get back to doing what I love,” says Stefan.

Now with good management of his illness, Stefan is back working full-time, playing football and is treasurer at his football club. He leads an active lifestyle and manages himself on the football ground taking breaks as needed to cool down.

“I can’t play all game anymore. If I feel the onset of double vision I have to cool down to reset and then go back out and play.”

For our amazing MS Walk Run + Roll fundraisers (that’s YOU!), Stefan wants to say thank you.

He says, “Thank you for supporting people with MS and providing them with the help they need to live a life as normal as possible. Without that support, people with MS won’t have access to services that really make a difference.”