Life often hinges on twists of fate.
Only a few years ago, Julie Hare was a full-time elementary school teacher. Her husband, Stephen, had a management position at a local Napa Valley winery.
In 2009 Julie was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and unfortunately, the diagnosis wasn’t the only unwanted surprise.
The economic downturn caused her teaching job to be eliminated, and Stephen was informed by his new boss that his services at the winery would no longer be required.
Things seemed so bleak that they agreed that “we had nowhere to go but up,” Julie said.
While Julie was attempting to face and accept her new life with MS, she found support in family, friends and various MS programs.
Julie attended our one day Jumpstart Program in 2011 and realized that a key part to living a full life with MS was focusing on what you can do.
“It was amazing to see Can Do MS put together a panel of medical professionals who truly cared so much about each one of us in the room. They not only gave us the tools to live better with MS, but also taught us how to implement those tools in our daily lives,” said Julie.
It wasn’t just Julie who changed through our programs.
Stephen said, “The Jumpstart Program changed my attitude on what it means to be a support partner. I realized we were in this together.”
Our Jumpstart Program kept them motivated to attend their local support group along with attending our monthly online webinar series.
One evening in November 2011, just a few months after attending our program, Julie and Stephen had an eye-opening experience and discovered how they were going to work together to pursue what they could do.
“One evening, while reflecting on gratitude and our recent life-changing events, a photo on our family room wall took on new meaning. The photo was taken in the early part of the 20th century and was of Stephen’s maternal grandfather in a playful boxing stance. The idea emerged that we could, as a couple, join our mutual passions — Stephen’s for the California wine industry and mine for wanting to give something back to the MS world. Counter Punch Wines was born. That photo on the wall would become the art for our future wine label,” Julie said.
Their goal for Counter Punch Wines is to create great wines that are produced from California’s best grape growing regions and to donate a portion of the profits back to organizations that help “counter punch” the effects of MS.
Throughout the process of starting the winery and learning how to manage Julie’s MS, they have learned that by helping others they are also helping themselves.
“Sharing a venture that we are passionate about and that somehow feels larger than us has given us another avenue to share our lives with one another. Let’s face it, MS is a bear of a disease that alters one’s life dramatically. The blessing is that as I developed MS, mine and Stephen’s relationship has become stronger. We have been married close to 30 years, and during life’s challenging times once again we turned toward, instead of away from, each other,” Julie said.
The Hares’ story is an amazing example of a family coming together during difficult times and deciding to focus on the positives.
They are proud to be working together and combining their passions to give back to the MS community that has given so much to them.
The next time your life’s path hits a speed bump, remember to focus on what you can do.
We’re excited to announce that during the month of June, Counter Punch Wines will donate 20 percent of all online sales to Can Do MS. Use the code CanDoMS at check out to ensure 20 percent of your purchase goes to support our lifestyle empowerment programs.
As a bonus, you will also receive 10 percent off your purchase as well. Visit www.counterpunchwines.com.
Scott Robinson is the marketing coordinator for Can Do Multiple Sclerosis.
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“We’ve been married close to 30 years, and during life’s challenging times once again we turned toward, in instead of away from, each other.”