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State Senator grows teary about multiple sclerosis

State Sen. Noreen Evans was overcome with emotion Monday as she introduced a resolution to declare this week Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week.

Noreen Evans speechThe debilitating neurological disease has hit close to home for Evans, D-Santa Rosa, who said four close family members have struggled with it. Her floor speech started out shaky, grew steadier for a time, and then ended in tears as she spoke of how the disease often strikes people in the prime of their lives. State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and state Sen. Holly Mitchell moved to comfort her as she finished; the Senate passed her resolution 31-0. The California Channel has video of her speech here – it starts at about 38 minutes and 45 seconds – but I’m having trouble embedding it.

Evans – a mother of three who announced in August that she’ll return to her law practice rather than seek a second Senate term this year – wouldn’t discuss her family’s specific situation later Monday afternoon except to say “it is something that has affected my family very deeply.” She did say one relative who had struggled with the disease passed away last year.

“I always like to try to find to turn a negative into a positive, and if I can turn this into a way of helping other people understand… then that’s something I’d like to do,” she said, adding public attention can help lead to more resources and support for research toward treatment, from reversing the disease’s effects to an overall cure. “There are a lot of people in our communities who struggle with this disease and nobody ever knows about it.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • RRSenileColumnist

    If “nobody” in her area knows about MS, they don’t get out much. What has Evans done before to raise public awareness?

  • JohnW

    People know about it, but I don’t think most people are truly aware. It’s really painful to see when it hits somebody you know. But of course there are many things in life that are just as awful.