Sometimes Feeling Good on the Inside, Starts on the Outside Kevin Goetz always knew that his mother would be an influential figure who would inspire him to give back to the community in a very big way. Rhoda Goetz was a vital force – a beautiful, smart, working woman who loved to shop and loved to dance.   Rhoda lived with progressive MS for 11 years and Kevin remembers how it impacted the entire family. When Rhoda was diagnosed, the family turned to the National MS Society to learn more about the disease. Soon after, Kevin began supporting the Southern California Chapter through the Dinner of Champions. He has also participated annually in Walk MS for over 20 years. In 2006, Kevin joined the Southern California Chapter board of trustees and became a member of The Golden Circle. As Kevin learned more about the organization, he was impressed with how responsive the Society was, and also convinced, more than ever, of the importance of making resources accessible for everyone with MS.   Understanding that living with a chronic illness can make even the simplest daily tasks challenging, Kevin created The Rhoda Goetz Foundation in 2005, and then worked with the Chapter to establish the first of its kind Rhoda Goetz Personal Care Program in memory of his mother. The Program aims to help people with MS maintain healthy personal care practices and support quality of life, self-esteem and in-home care.   Kevin fondly recalls his mother’s weekly visits to the beauty parlor – it was a ritual that provided her with a social circle and helped to boost her spirit. Kevin said, “Over time, as her condition worsened, it was difficult for my mom to look at herself in the mirror. She was so beautiful and always had a great figure, but being reliant on a wheelchair, she watched herself gain weight and lose muscle tone.” He continued, “When she went to the beauty parlor, she always felt better. With this Program, I want to honor her stamina and persistence – for putting a good face to something that was really hard for her, something that was really debilitating.”   The Program provides personal care services for both men and women including: hair, skin, nail care and massage; customized self-care assessment/evaluation and coaching; and educational wellness and lifestyle programs. These services help boost confidence, retain independence, regain control over personal care and give a sense of empowerment over physical changes due to illness.   The Program was designed for individuals living with MS who could not otherwise afford or manage their personal care due to mobility issues, difficulties with transportation and financial limitations. In January 2007, the Rhoda Goetz Personal Care Program was launched at the Center for Optimal Living with MS at Rancho Los Amigos in Downey. The facility includes adaptive salon equipment to accommodate Center members using wheelchairs. In 2008, the Program expanded to reach individuals with MS in skilled nursing facilities, including Hillcrest Care Center, Park Ventura, Woodland Care Center and Glenwood Gardens.   Since its first three years, the Program has gained huge momentum in facilities across California and continues to grow – with the Society’s New Jersey Chapter establishing the Program as well. By using the current program as a prototype, Kevin hopes to someday see the Rhoda Goetz Personal Care Program across the country.   In addition to establishing the Personal Care Program, Kevin supports MS research that is aimed at alleviating progressive MS, specifically Dr. Steven Goldman’s research at the University at Rochester Medical Center. Kevin said, “I know that we can better understand how and why this disease is caused. I think the discoveries that we make in our research will uncover clues to a whole host of other autoimmune diseases.”   Kevin has also been moved by the work of Dr. Stephen L. Hauser at the University of San Francisco for his work with the UCSF Multiple Sclerosis Center, one of the premier centers in California internationally renowned for caring for patients with MS and other inflammatory diseases of the nervous system.    As is his mission to support continuing MS research, Kevin, along with a dozen others, formed The MS Hope Foundation, a game-changing action-oriented, non-profit organization that responds with immediacy to the needs of people with Multiple Sclerosis by supporting innovative programs and services and funding cutting edge research.

Rhoda and Kevin Goetz