Sue Thomas

Finding New Ways To Inspire
 Sue Thomas scared us for a minute there.

The Society's 2007 National Conference in Dallas had been a  smashing  success: More  than 1,000 attendees,  tons of information,  food  and  drink  with  friends, a new source of inspiration every time you turned around.

Then Sue  took  the  stage. Sue  has  been profoundly deaf since  childhood,  but  some  of us in the audience doubted our own hearing. Did she just say… she quits?

That's exactly what she'd said.  That  she was quitting as a National MS Society Ambassador,  and appointing  herself an MS Warrior — that's how mad MS makes her!

Sue had our attention.  Which shouldn't  have  surprised us. Gaining  attention  for important  causes is one of the many things Sue does well.

Rebounding from that terrifying day at the age of 18 months she  suddenly  lost  her  hearing,  Sue  went  on,  at  7,  to become  the  youngest  Ohio  State  freestyle figure-skating champ ever. She  earned  a  bachelor's degree and went to grad school.  And  she went to work for the FBI, conducting surveillance by reading lips.

It was this experience that made Sue the inspiration for the PAX  TV  show  Sue Thomas:  F.B.Eye,  which  aired  from 2002-2005.  Sue was  played by Deanne Bray, who is also deaf.

Adding  yet  another  personal victory to her repertoire, Sue recently  rejoined  the  speaking circuit after  taking a hiatus due to  failing eyesight.  For an expert lip-reader,  low vision is like  going deaf  all over again. It also meant she couldn’t drive,  and  had to use  a wheelchair  because  her balance deteriorated.

She  melted down  one day  in 2008.  “I started crying,” she recalled.  “I had a conversation with the Creator of life and I said,   ‘You  know,  I  never  complained   when  I  got   my deafness.  When  I  got  MS,  I didn’t complain. But now my vision’s gone  and  it’s just too much.  To  be  deaf  and now blind, I just can’t do it.’”

Deborah  Shofstahl,   a  registered  nurse   who  is  Sue’s assistant and travel companion, suggested a visit to the eye doctor. Turned out that part of the issue was MS, but part of it was cataracts. An operation was scheduled, and Sue now sees  20/20  out  of  both eyes — though  she  continues  to experience  double  vision  and  waves of cloudiness due to the MS. Cont'd at Right...

“My vision  was  everything  for me  and  I was able to get it back.  This  has  brought  a whole new resolve for me to go out  and  get  as  much  money as I can for MS,” Sue said.  At   one  recent   appearance,  organizers  had   a  goal  of $50,000. By the end of the afternoon, they had $70,000.

“I’ve gone from being the FBI’s secret weapon to being the weapon to destroy MS,” Sue said. 

Sue recently  purchased  a  property in Vermont  where she plans  to  build  both  a  spiritual  retreat  called  A  Place  of Streams  and  EPEC  Service  Dogs,  a  training  facility  for dogs  to  aid  people  with  multi-disabilities.   Sue  has  had hearing  dogs  for  her  deafness  since 1989, but when she developed  MS  symptoms  she  realized  that  few  certified training  organizations  would  train  dogs for more than one purpose. EPEC stands for Extraordinary People... Extraordinary Canines.
Find out more about Sue Thomas by visiting her Website, Following her on FacebookShe is ALSO a proud Ambassador of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society

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