MS Activist Award for Lifelong Dedication awarded to 93-year-old Pearl Kibler of Tonawanda
BY: Community Papers of WNY Staff | September 05, 2013
TONAWANDA - Pearl Kibler of Tonawanda won’t let age slow her down when it comes to making a difference in the lives of people with multiple sclerosis. That’s why the 93-year old MS activist is being honored by the National MS Society Upstate New York Chapter at the Champions On the Move Luncheon on Sept. 13 at the Buffalo Marriott. Kibler is the recipient of the Anne L Schuell Award (Inspirational Person On the Move).
Her passion for helping people with multiple sclerosis began when a friend of Kibler asked her to attend a social club meeting that focused on helping people with MS, a disease of the central nervous system that affects more than 3,400 people in the Greater Buffalo area. That was in 1960, and Kibler had never even heard of the disease. There were three other people who showed up to that meeting. Since that time, Kibler has helped grow the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda Multiple Sclerosis Social Club to more than 125 members. At one point, her entire family was involved.
To fund dinners and outings hosted by the club, Kibler would hold barn sales at her old farmhouse in the City of Tonawanda. She even renovated her chicken coop to resemble an upscale boutique. Through these sales, Kibler raised thousands of dollars for the club by getting donated items from businesses, used goods from club members and neighbors, and estate items from local estate sale auctioneers.
The club would give out wheel chairs and hospital beds to their members. No one ever paid for anything. To keep club costs down, Kibler would often host picnics on her property, making all of the meals herself.
“MS people were my family; they were my life,” says Kibler, who used to open her home to people with MS who didn’t have a home, often filling her entire house with people with MS who had no place to go. “You have to love what you do and have a love of people to get ahead.”
Kibler is still referring people to the National MS Society for information and advice and is currently trying to generate $1,000 in donations for the Upstate New York Chapter. Kibler and her friends used to work the coat room for the chapter’s Dinner of Champions and donate all of their tips to the club. When it comes to raising funds to find a cure for MS and to support programs and services for people with the disease, Kibler never seems to slow down. She is now actively trying to secure door prizes for her next club meeting in September.
Kibler’s philosophy of how people should look at living with MS: “Don’t fight it, work along with it.”
Tickets to the luncheon are $60. To reserve your seat, visit MSupstateny.org, call Maria Batt at 634-2573 ext. 70501 or email Maria.Batt@nmss.org