Mike Smolenski and the Fight Against MSAWelcome and thank you for visiting the Smolenski MSA Research Fund website. This site was created to educate others about Multiple System Atrophy (MSA) and to support ongoing research of the poorly understood neurological disorder. The cause of MSA is unknown and there is no cure for the disease. From the onset ofsymptoms, on average, a person with MSA requires a walking-aid within 3 years, is confined to a wheelchair within 5 years, bedridden within 8 years, and deceased within 9 years. And while MSA progresses at different rates in different people, its attack on the human body is relentless and its outcome certain.
Hon. Michael R. Smolenski, to whom this site is dedicated, passed away May 30, 2009 as a result of MSA. Prior to the onset of symptoms, Mike was healthy, active, and regularly ran several miles a day. Then, in 2003 he began experiencing light-headedness and shortness of breath while running. That marked the start of Mike’s long, arduous fight with an unforgiving disease. From then on, MSA steadily eroded his physical health and robbed him of the ability to do the things we take for granted every day. In a matter of about 4 years, he went from running, to using a walker, to being in a wheelchair. Like others afflicted with MSA, he essentially became a prisoner in his own body.
And yet, despite being faced with such devastating circumstances, Mike somehow managed to maintain his characteristic good cheer and positivity. No matter how terrible his condition became, he never complained - to the contrary, he always found a way to laugh and keep everyone in good spirits. As anyone close to Mike will tell you, he refused to give up and fought to the end with a courage and dignity to which most of us can only aspire. In telling his story, our hope is that others will be inspired to learn more about MSA and to join us as we take up the fight where Mike left off.
In that spirit, the Smolenski family hosts an annual fundraiser for MSA Research in Mike’s honor. Having run the race over a dozen times through the years, Mike always looked forward to the Fifth-Third River Bank Run. As such, we will be holding the event on race day this year. It will be a casual gathering following the River Bank. Our hope is that friends of Mike’s – co-workers, colleagues, and old running pals alike – will stop by to enjoy food and drinks, share memories of Mike, and help us raise money for MSA Research. All proceeds go directly to the Smolenski MSA Research Fund at the University of Michigan. All are welcome, so please come out and join us as we have a good time supporting a worthy cause.