IN 1989, at age 39, Westminster resident Donna Goonan was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She had exhibited the symptoms for some time, but no one could tell her that the numbness and tingling in her arms and legs were multiple sclerosis.
"They just didn't know," she said.
When she began to fall frequently, she was forced to retire from her job as an executive manager for Tupperware, a job she had held for 19 years.
But Goonan was not bitter. She turned her experience into a positive one, volunteering at the Westminster branch of the Multiple Sclerosis Society. The office serves Carroll, Howard and Frederick counties.
Each year, the Maryland organization recognizes one person from each of its four branches who has been an outstanding volunteer.
Citing her outstanding accomplishments and untiring volunteer efforts, the organization awarded her with a plaque at a recent banquet at Martin's West in Woodlawn.
"I got an invitation to attend the luncheon to honor outstanding volunteers for 1996 and to meet four neurologists and get a chance to ask them questions," Goonan said.
"The invitation said I would get a free, complimentary admission. Since I always go for the free things, and the tickets cost $20 each, I went," she said. "My mom went with me. I had no idea I would be honored. No one told me. I was so surprised I almost cried."
Goonan said the people she works with at the Westminster branch are exceptional.
"The paid employees are so nice to the volunteers," she said.
Goonan volunteers at the center, in Winchester Exchange, at least twice a week. She supported the 1996 MS Walk in Westminster as a key volunteer, recruiting her mother and rTC encouraging her two sons, Joseph Jr., 22, and Tim, 19, to participate as walkers.
"I spend a lot of time stamping envelopes, filing, typing, answering telephones and diverting calls," she said. "They call it junk work, but I love it."
She is doing well on new medication and receives an intramuscular shot twice a month.
Goonan, her husband, Joseph Sr., and their sons had to move from their two-story family home into a rancher. She still falls often but is optimistic.
"Others I work with are so much worse than I am," she said. "Sometimes I feel guilty because I am still walking. But then, there are so many things they can do that I cannot. And at least I can still do things to help them."
Goonan loves her plaque. "I show it to everyone. Why am I so excited about a plaque? I don't know," she said. "It's just neat, and it makes me so happy."
Sports Hall of Fame
The 4-year-old Carroll County Sports Hall of Fame is seeking nominations for its 1997 induction ceremony.
Each year, inductees are honored at a banquet, at which their plaques are unveiled on the wall at Carroll Community College.
"We established the Carroll County Sports Hall of Fame for two reasons: to give credit and to honor athletes who would otherwise not be recognized, and to raise funds for the Westminster Rotary Club," said Helen Utz, a member of Westminster Rotary Club and chairwoman of this year's induction committee.
Funds for the club are raised by banquet ticket sales. This year's banquet will be March 24 at Carroll Community College.
Nominees for the Sports Hall of Fame should have been residents of Carroll County during the time of their sports involvement. They also should have been removed from active participation in that sport for at least five years and should have shown exceptional leadership and talent in the sport.
Nomination forms can be obtained at Westminster Rotary Club or the Chamber of Commerce, 247 E. Main St., Westminster. Forms must be received no later than Friday.Information: 848-9050 or 876-7512.
Pub Date: 12/30/96