Inspiring People: Chris’s MS Story
When ordering songs, your stories and words prove how strong people can be through some of the toughest obstacles life can throw their way. When we were tasked to make a song for Chris, an MS survivor, the love and strength from him, his friends and his family were truly inspiring. We were honored to create such a personal gift for him and wanted to highlight the amazing person he is.
Chris is a staple in the bar community of Chicago, Illinois. For years, everyone had known him as a legendary bartender and an even more legendary friend. Brawny, bearded and a bit uncouth, he was the last person anyone expected to fall ill. After struggling with severe fatigue, pain and countless doctor visits, Chris was finally diagnosed with MS six years ago.
“I have MS, but MS does not have me,” Chris said defiantly after the 2017 MS Walk in Chicago.
Chris’s best friend, Ryan, met him at the bar Chris was working at. He said “Little did I know this bearded Greek man would become one of the best friends in my life. He instantly took me in, and had my back.” For those of you in the hospitality industry, you know you rarely get to go home for holidays. Ryan’s holidays were spent with Chris and his family. He truly has literally (survived triple bi-pass surgery) one of the strongest and biggest hearts of anyone I know.
“I remember the night that Chris told me he had been diagnosed with MS. It brought heavy tears to my eyes and cheeks as I sat at a table at Bar on Buena. I did not understand why such a bad thing was happening to such an incredible man.
Chris’s sister Ali has always been very close to her brother. “He has always been larger than life to me. In high school, when he thought punk rock was cool, so did I. When he was listening to reggae, so was I. What he wore, I wore. That did not help me to grow up to be a gracious lady like figure, but at least I had good musical taste.
Everyone thought he was cool, it wasn’t just me. He was the homecoming king. Not just the homecoming king, but the punk rock, anti-establishment, in the teacher’s face homecoming king. Through word of mouth, his friends thought it would be funny to get him on the king’s court. He wasn’t anything like the jocks and good students that he shared the court with. He wore combat boots and a Mohawk because my dad hounded him to get his shaggy hair cut for years which he finally did and made my dad more mad but it made my mom laugh. He was the anti-homecoming homecoming king and it split the school. Many teachers take that tradition seriously and his mockery of it was maddening. I think a pig was released in the hallway, rats were freed from the biology room – homecoming was almost cancelled. Instead, it continued and to everyone’s surprise, he won. When they announced his name and he went up on the stage, in front of the school and the audience, including my parents, he grabbed his “junk.” Did I mention that my dad was on the school board? This was quite the topic of conversation at the dinner table.
My favorite time in my life was shortly after my father died and I was still too young to be living on my own so he rented an apartment for the two of us. It had been years since we had lived together so I was loving being so close to him. And again, I was following him to everywhere he went and imposing myself wherever I could. Whatever bar he was working, I was a barfly.
Living together we learned a lot about each other. We definitely learned we are quite opposites. He always worked nights and earned his entire share of the rent in one night while I worked mornings for crap pay at a nursing home. He would come home from his bartending shifts and throw dog biscuits into my bed while I was sleeping so that he could enjoy watching his 120lb akita, Khan, jump into the bed madly searching for them.
His current dog Wallace is his heart. He is a very handsome American bulldog with a patch over his eye. My mom and I decided that a dog would help him after the MS diagnosis. It was about a year or two after the diagnosis and after the initial horrible medication adjustments. He was struggling and it was difficult to decipher if it was the MS, the medication or depression. Chris said that having Wallace helped him get up on the days he didn’t want to anymore. Wallace was what he needed. My mom would pick Chris and Wallace up every Wednesday to go to dog training. There were times when my mom and I questioned whether adding responsibility to him was wise during a time when his energy wasn’t good. I still question it. Regardless, I know that Wallace brings him such joy and love and I adore seeing his pictures on Facebook.
Minus Wallace, my brother values his friendships more than anything. His friends have been his family. As soon as there is a chill in the air, he looks forward to the holidays, particularly Thanksgiving, and opening up his home to his friends. He is gifted and skilled in the art of friendships and entertaining. He was given that gift from my dad.”
Get a song hand-crafted for a loved one based on your favorite memories, stories and feelings here. Enter ALLINFORCHRIS at checkout & we’ll donate $20 to National MS Society.