On December 2, 2011, CMTA Chairman Herb Beron presented Melinda Lang, the Upstate New York Support and Action Group Facilitator, with the honorary Rebecca Sand Volunteer of the Year Award. Working tirelessly on behalf of the CMTA,Rebecca Sand was the first to raise her hand to take on new challenges. From spreading awareness and fundraising to championing the rights of persons with disabilities, Rebecca received the CMTA’s first Volunteer of the Year Award in the summer of 1990.
This year, the CMTA decided to recognize the outstanding efforts of one individual within the CMTA community who best displays Rebecca Sand’s qualities of leadership, service, hard work, camaraderie, enthusiasm, and dedication. Congratulations to Melinda Lang, for her remarkable contributions and unwavering commitment to the CMTA.
Melinda’s CMT symptoms began in childhood with frequent falls and sprained ankles, but her self-diagnosis was not confirmed until age 47. By that time, she was very weak, struggled to climb stairs, and began most days by tripping and falling. After leaving her career as a pharmacist, because of health concerns, she decided to make a difference in her own life and the lives of others by founding the Upstate NY CMTA support and action group and getting involved with the CMTA.
Emphasizing the CMTA’s three major goals of fundraising/research, increasing awareness, and patient advocacy, Melinda’s efforts have been strikingly successful. Her achievements include talking to physical therapy students about CMT, writing a CMT awareness blog (“Living Well with CMT”), and participating in many CMT Awareness Month activities, including the launching of CMT Global Day. Melinda was interviewed on television, submitted CMT articles for her local newspapers, organized fundraisers (Valley Cats Baseball and Art de Cure’s Starry Night event), set up a CMT exhibit table at the American Pain Foundation, and created the CMTA’s product line in our Zazzle store.
Melinda emphasizes her belief that “you can live a full life, even though you have CMT.” Remaining active and dedicated to self-care is essential to her well-being. Daily physical therapy and swimming have improved her quality of life. Her husband of 28 years and her loving mom, Melanie, also provide an essential support system for Melinda.
To live fully in the world, Melinda is committed not only to overcoming her CMT but also her shy nature. Facilitating a group was initially a daunting task for Melinda, but she is conquering her inhibitions through determination and unrelenting passion. In addition, her desire to help others through supportive empathy and informative activism makes her a commendable facilitator and a wonderful individual.
The CMTA is forever grateful for all of her efforts and contributions today, which will positively impact the generations of tomorrow. To quote 19th Century Universalist Minister, Edwin Hubbel Chapin, “Every action in our lives touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity.” We thank Melinda for the permanent gifts and indelible mark she has left on the CMT community!