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Cumming mom honored for MS advocacy

Author/singer aims to inspire others

POSTED: April 8, 2014 12:02 a.m.
For the Forsyth County News/

Cumming resident Kristie Salerno Kent, left, met nationally known journalist and TV personality Meredith Vieira during the Books for a Better Life event in New York.

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CUMMING -- A Cumming mother of two is living her dreams despite having a condition that might stop others.

Kristie Salerno Kent was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999, when she was 25.  She was a student, studying musical theater at Syracuse University, when she first started having symptoms of the condition.  

“I went into a place of denial for a good, long period of time,” said Kent, noting that she used her theater training to cover her symptoms and pretend her health was not an issue.

But later she learned to accept her condition and to continue to move forward with her dreams despite the challenges.

Last year, she wrote a book titled “DreaMS: My Journey with Multiple Sclerosis,” to help others dealing with anything that may cause them to put their aspirations on hold.

“The book is about not just wanting to be a singer and performer and songwriter, it goes beyond that,” she said. “It was a dream I had since I was a child and I lost sight of that because I had an issue with my health.

“So the book really is for anybody who’s going through a bump in the road and to encourage people to not let denial swallow up their dreams and cast them aside like I did for a period of time.”

The book was honored in March during Books for a Better Life, presented by the New York Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Kent received the Spotlight Award during the event, which was hosted by nationally-known journalist and T.V. personality Meredith Vieira, since the book “shined a spotlight on what it is to have MS.”

The book, Kent said, also focuses on helping those with chronic conditions realize what they need to do to have the best possible life.

“To have any chronic illness takes a team of people,” she said. “So I have a strong partnership with my doctor, with my husband of course, and with the MS community.”

Kent said having the book, which is available for free download at www.dreamstheebook.com, be recognized was a special experience.

“The event … recognizes various books on health and wellness,” she said. “I was very honored to have my book considered among those.

“The whole experience was awesome. I got to introduce Meredith Vieira, who I absolutely adore. I’ve always been a huge fan of hers, not only as a reporter and broadcaster, but she’s also very involved in the MS community because her husband has MS.”

As for her dreams, Kent said she is living those out every day as wife to her high school sweetheart Mike, mom to son Kingston and daughter Giabella, and as an ambassador for the National MS Society.

Through that position she gets to travel across the country, performing and sharing her story.

She also has recorded and produced a solo album, “Believe,” and a short documentary called “The Show Must Go On,” designed to help others understand the emotions and physical symptoms associated with multiple sclerosis.

Overall, she hopes to inspire others dealing with any obstacle that could prevent them from enjoying life to the fullest.

“Share, don’t hide and stay in denial,” she said. “Face your fears and forge ahead. I think people will be surprised at what they’re capable of. I know I was.”

 

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