As a young child, Adriana Grasso raised funds in the MS Readathon never imagining that one day she too would be diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. But that's exactly what happened in December 2011 at the age of 26. It was a bitter sweet moment for Adriana as moments before she'd received news that she'd qualified as a Certified Practising Accountant (CPA).
Adriana's diagnosis came after a trip to the gym where she suddenly experienced 'electric shocks' in her feet when she moved her head. She thought it was nothing serious, but within a few days had lost sensation in her hands followed by numbness and tingling through her torso.
Feeling as though her body was 'strangling' her from the inside out, she was rushed to a neurologist and, after further testing, was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.
Despite the heart-breaking news, Adriana felt some relief that her symptoms now had a name. But she was soon overwhelmed by the effects of the disease and for a while struggled with anxiety and depression.
Her family suggested she move back to rural Shepparton to regain her strength and rebuild her life. Going for walks every day with her mother was one of many small changes Adriana made to her lifestyle and she was soon feeling much better.
She also reached out to the MS Connect information line and accepted up to date and accurate information about lifestyle, medication and living well with MS options.
Not long after her move back home, a friend told her about the 2012 MS Walk+Fun Run. She entered and focused her energy into raising funds and awareness for MS. Her team raised $10,000 in just four weeks.
Impressed by the generosity of others, Adriana realised she was not alone in dealing with multiple sclerosis and became determined to repay their kindness by continuing to help those with the disease. With the love and support of her dedicated family, friends and husband, Adriana held a 400 seat fundraising lunch in her home town of Shepparton where they raised $150,000 - making her the highest fundraiser for the MS Walk and Fun Run that year.
She recently held a similar event in April 2015, where she raised another $130,000.
Adriana says that she has been given some amazing opportunities since her diagnosis including being involved in the Seeing MS Campaign.
"I hope that one day soon there will be a cure for multiple sclerosis, but in the meantime I will continue to create much needed awareness, and on my journey I hope to help others overcome their struggles with the disease."
Through the journey of living with multiple sclerosis Adriana has realised that you have three choices in life when bad things happen: you can let it define you, let it destroy you, or let it strengthen you.
MS Ambassador Adriana is an articulate young woman, who will show you how it is possible to touch others with her story and as result - motivate a whole community.