A Profile in Courage

By
Paul Reuter, Chairman emeritus and contributing editor

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Let me ask you to read this column and pass it along. We need your help, so please join me with your care and support.

For decades, I have said that the main thing that makes our industry so unique and enjoyable is the people we meet and befriend. Rex Griswold is the very best example of this.

Just a few weeks ago, Rex was presented with Nestle Waters’ highest honor, its President’s Award. CEO Kim Jeffery summed up the Rex we all know: “Your accomplishments have been critical to our success, but more important to all of us is how you have done it. Unfailing humor, candor, mentoring, real friendship, mixed with being a role model—the kind of behavior which inspires people. Believe me when I tell you people are inspired by Rex Griswold.”

From his colleague Jim Donker:“His reputation within our industry is second to none.” And from Dave Hardie:“Humility is [the one word] that I am most fond of when I think of Rex.”(See our Feb. 14 CSP Daily News story for more.)

Rex stood in front of his peers with his wife and two young sons and received an award he so well deserved. And he qualifies for another award—one also grounded in his leadership, humility, humor and all the other qualities said of Rex

But I would offer one more: courage, in the face of circumstances no one would imagine or wish for another. Imagine a world in which even the smallest step is one of the hardest things you will do in a day. Imagine a world in which you will eat or breathe through a tube.

Imagine a world in which everything except your brain is no longer working—your muscles will not help you talk, nor let you hold the hand of a loved one.

Imagine a world in which you are a prisoner in your own body.

This is what the world will one day belike for Rex Griswold.

Rex last year was told he has Multiple System Atrophy, or MSA. Unfortunately, no one knows where this disease comes from, or why or how anyone gets it.

According to Dr. David Robertson of Vanderbilt University, “There are few disease entities that are more desperate, more deserving in need of a solution[than MSA]. It takes people in midlife. It takes people and hits them very hard, and in many cases within three years are very different people in terms of what their capabilities are.

“From the time the disease is recognized until the average that someone survives is probably between five and eight years. And between that time, that progression is relentless and … from month to month you can see the deterioration.”

Last month I spent a day with Rex and his family, producing a video to help tell the MSA story. As the Griswolds satin front of our camera, it was, to say the least, heart wrenching, and an almost unimaginable story in today’s world. But it was also inspiring to be around them.

“I try to focus on now being the goodtime,” Rex says. “It’s frustrating, but I am still walking and still talking, so now is the good time. … You only have so much time, so you want to make it count.”

Rex is helping raise money for the first “MSA Research for the Cure” study to be undertaken. Not only is it about the cure, but it’s also about providing hope—hope for Rex, and for all those who today have no hope of being rid of this disease. CSP’s CARRE Foundation and Nestle Waters will support Rex’s fundraising efforts, which will culminate at CSP’s Outlook Leadership conference in November in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Any contribution you can make, any help you can provide in asking others to join the effort, will go a long way.

I have two suggestions: First, watch and share the brief video we have prepared at www.cspnet.com/msa. Second, if you would like to donate, please make a checkout to the CARRE Foundation and send to Kevin LeSueur, CSP Business Media, 1911S. Lindsay Road, Mesa AZ 85204.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and thanks for your consideration. Believe that it is very appreciated. Please email me at preuter@cspnet.com with any questions.

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