August 5, 2002

A THOUGHTFUL AND INFORMATIVE e-mail arrived last Monday in response to that day's "Around Sunol" column and I thought I'd share some of it with you. Sandra Rollins of Livermore wrote that although she was moved by the stories of recent walks for charity by Heather Shea and Sandi Bohner, she was concerned about the impression left by a quote I used from Sandi.

Sandra Rollins wrote, "I applaud Ms. Bohner's achievement and know her heart (and her feet) were in the right place. One thing I think should be cleared up, however, is the statement that says 'Eventually, MS leads to double vision, paralysis and blindness', as if that were an inevitable fate for everyone with MS." She brings a very important issue to light, noting that each person is different and has different symptoms. "To make a blanket statement like that does a disservice to people with MS who are leading normal lives, and to those newly diagnosed who are looking for information," Sandra said.

Neither Sandi Bohner nor I could agree more. Sandi's statement, taken from her pledge request letter, was a worst-case scenario meant to point out how urgent the need is for awareness, fundraising and research. I apologize for my insensitivity in not placing that description at the one end of the continuum of outcomes for people with muscular dystrophy.

If anything clarifies the other end of that continuum, it is the energetic lifestyles of these two women. Sandra will be 60 next month and was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy 20 years ago. She initially experienced weakness, double vision and walking problems that led to the need for a wheelchair. "I used a cane for two years for short distances but gradually worked my way to a remission and never looked back," she stated. "I wanted to dance at my daughter's wedding, and dance I did."

Sandra has been nearly symptom free for the past 18 years, has a fulltime job, works out three nights a week, and recently made her first climb on an indoor rock wall at the Sunrise Rock Gym in Livermore. In April, she walked the 6.2 miles of the March of Dimes Walkathon with her employer, Hanson Aggregates in Pleasanton, where she works in the credit department. "I walk, bike ride, dance, do whatever I want," Sandra wrote. "I realize I am incredibly lucky to have what they call a 'benign' case of MS, but there are many others who also have few symptoms."

And most days Sandi Bohner is one of them. Every now and then she feels weak or suffers from pain in her arms, but you'd never know it watching her zoom in, out and around her Little Valley bistro. In addition to walking marathons and working full time establishing and expanding Little Valley Vineyards, she is on the board of the Livermore Valley Wine Association, is active in the Sunol Business Guild, and takes very good care of her "babies", as she calls her grape seedlings!

Thanks, Sandra, for sharing your valuable feedback, and thanks to both of these inspiring ladies for caring, making a difference, and making every day count.

CALENDAR NOTE: There will be a Sunol Citizen's Advisory Committee meeting Wednesday (8-7) at 7 p.m. in the Sunol Glen School cafeteria. There are four items on the agenda, all of which may be of interest to residents. Two companies are seeking permits to construct and operate wireless communications facilities in Sunol, Cingular Wireless at Pleasanton-Sunol Road and the northeast corner of Paloma Way, and Nextel of California at 5500 Niles Canyon Road.

Also to be discussed is Mission Valley Rock Company's plan to expand their existing pits on Athenour Way from 140 feet deep to up to 250 feet deep. The final item on the agenda is Jim O'Laughlin's request for a review of development options for the former gas station site at 233 Bond Street. Please come and learn about these projects and provide the committee with your views and concerns.

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