MS didn’t stop triathlete

Published 1:15 am Friday, October 30, 2009

There is always one day – a pivotal day – when life changes forever. For Beth Price, that day was Aug. 28, 1998, the day she was told she had “MS” or multiple sclerosis.

“And MS doesn’t mean Martha Stewart, either,” Price said as she told her story to those attending the 16th annual recognition breakfast of the Covington County Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities held Thursday at Southside Baptist Church.

Price, a Spanish Fort resident, is a triathlon athlete and has been competing since her diagnosis.

She first realized she had medical problems when she lost some vision in her left eye. Not long after that initial vision loss, a doctor diagnosed her with the disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. More than 2.5 million people worldwide suffer from the disease that causes muscle weakness, tingling, numbness, blurred vision and thinking problems, as well as many other symptoms affecting the central nervous system.

“When the doctor told me, I was floored,” Price said. “I have always had a strong faith. I knew that I wasn’t being punished by God, but I still asked, ‘Why me?’ ”

Price said it was the words of her late father that encouraged her to work past her disability to accomplish one of her lifetime goals – competing in a triathlon. She discovered a whole network of competitions specifically designed for people with disabilities.

“My father always said life isn’t always fair,” she said. “It is about how you live your life and how you want to be remembered. That’s when I decided to do a triathlon because I knew the only way I could fail is if I didn’t try.”

Beth Price will be remembered as a champion, and she has the gold medals to prove it. She swam, cycled and ran her way to a silver medal in the 2009 ITU World Championship. Other accomplishments include several national and state championship wins.

“And those abilities can cross over into the workforce for people who live with a disability,” she said. “And employers should be commended for giving us a chance.”

After Price’s address, three local women were recognized for their efforts – Kristie Brown, Jan White and Brenda Mooney.

Brown, a certified nursing assistant at Florala Health and Rehab, was honored as this year’s employee of the year; White was honored as professional of the year; and Mooney, a 30-year education veteran and special education teacher at Pleasant Home School, was honored as educator of the year.

Also recognized was the employer of the year – McDonald’s of Andalusia.