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“Jacquie’s Journey” – a cousin’s generosity sparks MS Warrior to leave a legacy

25 October 2023

When Jacquie Brown learned that her cousin Zandra and her husband Collin were leaving a gift in their Will to MS Plus, she marvelled at their generosity. She knew their gift could help support people with multiple sclerosis to lead better lives.

The gift was particularly poignant to Jacquie because she had been diagnosed aged 50 with late-onset multiple sclerosis (MS) in 2005.

As soon as Jacquie received the couple’s email, she called to see if they were okay because Will talk can be daunting. Collin reassured her that they were fine; they had just been doing some forward planning.

Jacquie Brown (right) with Mamma Lina’s owner Sam Agostino (left).

But they wanted Jacquie to know they were honouring her experience living with MS. Jacquie’s energetic fundraising for the cause had inspired them to leave a gift in their Will to support the charity helping her.

The staff at MS Plus had supported Jacquie when her health declined a few years ago. With their guidance, Jacquie navigated the NDIS, obtained an electric scooter when she could no longer walk and accessed home care when she required it.

In the 18 years after her diagnosis, Jacquie and her family have kept positive about her MS journey.

“When you learn you’ve got something like this, it’s devastating; it’s awful. Then you pick yourself up and go, ‘Okay, what can I do about it?’ I try to do the best I can and raise some money for others,” explained Jacquie.

Refusing to let the condition “define who she was,” Jacquie has spent over ten years fundraising for MS Plus. She organised an annual Do it for MS event that featured three-course meals, raffles and silent auctions. These lunches and dinners took place at Mamma Lina’s, her favourite Essendon café, where owner Sam Agostino enthusiastically supported Jacquie’s efforts. In that time, she raised over $85,000 for the charity.

Despite becoming a fundraiser, Jacquie had never considered leaving a gift in her Will. But after talking to Zandra and Collin about their legacy plans, she decided it was something she could easily do.

“I was sure I could do this in my Will and help spread the word to everyone I know. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that you can assist others where you can. I have helped with fundraising and awareness during my life, so why not a small gift in my Will? Zandra and Collin’s legacy gift to MS Plus is amazing. I should have thought of it myself,” she said.

When she last talked to MS Plus, Jacquie was planning an afternoon tea with all her friends. She decided she would announce her legacy intentions at the event in the hopes of sparking a conversation about charitable gifts with her loved ones.

“Like me, I’m sure they haven’t even thought of it before. It’s not until someone mentions it to you that you think it’s logical and helpful. I know I will be helping others for years to come.”

Could you be like Jacquie, Zandra and Collin and consider a gift in your Will for people living with MS? Any gift, no matter how big or small, can make a difference and support those living with MS. Even 1% after all gifts to family and friends. And, it might also help fast-track a cure! To learn more, please call Laura or Rebecca on 1800 443 867, email futureplanning@ms.org.au, or visit My MS Legacy.

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“Jacquie’s Journey” – a cousin’s generosity sparks MS Warrior to leave a legacy