Kathleen Crudele isn’t about to close to book on raising funds even though the MS Walk was held virtually in April.
A Warwick resident, Crudele was diagnosed with MS in 2009. It was a frightening experience and she didn’t know what to expect.
Then this year, like the rest of us, she was thrown a curveball when the coronavirus hit. She didn’t let a pandemic deter her passion to raise funds to find a cure for MS. To date, she and her team, Kathy’s Kritters, have raised more than $30,000.
Crudele also has hosted a support group for people with MS. What she truly loves is getting to help people going through MS by getting them the resources they deserve. She believes she has a type A personality and loves to meet new people.
“Being involved with the MS Society and the MS Foundation,” she said, “I feel I have a purpose.”
As of this week, she is closing in on the $5,000 goal set to raise for this year’s walk. The deadline is Sept. 30, and as of Monday she was up to $4,858.99. She is currently ranked No. 1 out of 270 participants in Walk MS Rhode Island.
Rhode Island, as a state, has the second-highest MS diagnosis rate, with 36 diagnosed cases per 10,000 people. Washington, D.C., has the greatest number of cases per capita.
The pandemic has affected us all in different ways. As a result of COVD-19, Crudele has had to put physical therapy on pause.
“I go stir crazy being home,” she said. “And, you know, it was like when I get out of the hospital, oh, we’re going to do this we’re going to, you know, go to the Cape or go to Boston and visit all the places that I missed out on. And you can’t do any of that. So, it feels like I’ve been [at home] forever.”
Crudele and her husband Ron recently celebrated their 41st anniversary. They meet during the Blizzard of 1978 and have been reflecting on how this quarantine reminds them of when they first meet.
Crudele has been trying new activities over the past months.
“Out of this pandemic, I became a hairdresser, a dog clipper, you know, so many things,” she said. “I’m ordering a sewing machine, I’m going to learn how to make little things for my granddaughter.”
She has also taken up baking and continues to go for a short walk almost every day. She loves spending time with her dog Nico, who she believes is the best medicine.
“I do know some days I do go stir crazy. It’s just not an easy thing,” she said. “But out of it you, what are you going to do? You have to stay positive, try to do things that you didn’t have time to do before.”
Her biggest disappointment due to the pandemic is not being able to visit her granddaughter Natalie Linden, who resides in Georgia with Crudele’s daughter and son-in-law. She is thankful that due to social media she can virtually watch her granddaughter take her first steps and say her first words. They eat dinner every day with her daughter and son-in-law in Georgia via FaceTime. Becoming a grandparent has changed her world.
“Then they told me they were going to have a baby. Well, you know, I put a whole different look on my life,” she said. “I just said I couldn’t believe it. And it was just the best thing that happened to me. So, I have to look at those things because I never thought I’d be becoming a grandparent, and that was exciting.”
MS is a part of Crudele’s life, but it does not define who she is even during a pandemic. When she was first diagnosed she kept it a secret, not even telling her brother because she didn’t want anyone to look down on her and think she was weak.
During the past 11 years, however, her outlook has evolved.
“I guess I have always been driven,” she said, “and MS won’t stop me.”