Classmates looking to help own

Published 12:40 pm Thursday, April 10, 2003

By By ROBERT BLANKENSHIP – Managing Editor
Phyllis Ball does not get out of her home very much. It is not because she is antisocial or that she does not like the rain. It is because she has multiple sclerosis.
A native and lifelong resident of East Brewton, Ball often has troubles and experiences agonizing pain when she leaves her home. A major reason for this is because she does not have the equipment that would allow someone with her disease to ride in comfort.
Her yearning to be more active has led some of her oldest friends to join together in hopes of raising enough money to purchase a lift van that would make Ball's life much easier and enjoyable. Those friends are her former classmates - the Class of 1965 from W.S. Neal High School.
After suffering for several years under a misdiagnosis, Ball discovered in 1987 that she had multiple sclerosis (MS). Originally, doctors thought she had epilepsy because her troubled speech and handwriting fit the symptoms. But, one morning in 1987 she suffered a seizure and was diagnosed with the disease that has continued to haunt her.
Since that time her physical condition has continued to decline. At one point, after traveling to Pensacola to have dinner with her family, she said she would never leave her house again.
Knowing her condition and the pain she suffers when traveling, some of her closest friends have rallied the Class of 1965 to help Ball. They are hoping that a community-wide effort to raise money will help provide a newer model lift van that will enable Ball to take her very heavy electric wheelchair anywhere she wants to go.
Myron Pugh was not a member of the Class of 1965, but her daughter, Becky Lambert, was. Pugh has been close to Ball since the days when she and Becky were close friends at W.S. Neal. She said it was during a casual conversation that the need for the van came up.
While many take for granted the liberty of coming and going, Pugh said Ball would appreciate even the most simple trips.
Ball's MS has progressed to secondary progressive. She was taking medication, but was advised to stop taking it by a neurologist.
She said Dr. Piacente has been very good to her and has a reputation for "never turning down an MS patient." In fact, Ball is quick to credit many people for helping her through daily life.
She also said that Louise Browder comes to her home and does a lot to take care of her.
A few years ago, she met another person who would be of great help and support - her husband, Buddy Ball. She said her husband had suffered the loss of his wife from cancer several years prior to their meeting and he seemed to really understand the pain she was going through.
Ball said she has been blessed with caring friends and wonderful neighbors.
Ball's classmates are hoping that those able will help support their efforts to provide for their friend. The class has set up donation accounts at First Progressive, BankTrust and the Bank of Brewton. They will also host a day-long barbeque and an auction on May 3 at the East Brewton Civic Center. All proceeds will go toward the purchase of a lift van.
Pugh said that a number of classmates are taking part in the fundraiser and that she suspects others will soon.
Ball has rarely left her house over the past three years. She said the ideal of being able to get into a van and going somewhere when she needs to is a great feeling.

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