30 Years In The Making: Nancy Davis Rickel Has Changed The Way The World Views MS

by | Jun 2, 2023

For the past 30 years, the landscape of MS research has drastically changed. What we thought of as an “impossible” disease is now more manageable because of the efforts of one woman, a survivor who with her community, sought to change the public’s perception of a debilitating illness.

Nancy Davis Rickel launched Race to Erase MS three decades ago to learn more about her and others’ experiences with MS. ‘I was told at the beginning of my disease that there were no treatments and not enough science behind it to make substantial strides in care.’

Nancy later learned that MS was a disease that no one wanted to discuss. Patients were suffering in silence, making it difficult for people to raise awareness or funds for research openly. But that did not deter her from finding a way to understand what others couldn’t, and since then, the philanthropist has made moves in finding people conducting identical research. 

Now, Race to Erase MS has become an all-encompassing non-profit organization that combined the best minds in neurology to conduct innovative research with their Center Without Walls program to find a cure for MS. Ultimately ‘I knew in my heart we were building something that was going to change MS research forever.’

Statistics show that over 2.9 million people worldwide live with MS, which can be daunting when it comes to living with the symptoms that can afflict day-to-day living. Nancy’s initial hurdles made her look at the situation differently, and the best advice she can give fellow survivors hoping to live quality lives despite their circumstances is to persevere and research the current studies and treatments available. 

Philanthropist Nancy Davis poses with David Foster, Avril Lavigne and Phillip Sarofim at her annual Race to Erase MS Gala in Beverly Hills. RANDY SHROPSHIRE/GETTY

(L-R) Vanity Fair executive West Coast editor Krista Smith, honoree Selma Blair, Race to Erase MS founder Nancy Davis, Robin Roberts, and Sarah Michelle Gellar attend the 26th annual Race to Erase MS on May 10, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Race To Erase MS)

 “The whole landscape of MS has been altered, and you owe it to yourself to hear and understand what’s happening in this space. Every year, Race to Erase MS hosts an educational forum that brings together the great minds behind our Center Without Walls program to discuss the latest findings in MS research.

 We invite everyone to attend this event: Race to Erase MS | Forum & Virtual Expo (erasemsforumandexpo.org) It’s also vital that MS patients keep themselves healthy, maintain a positive attitude, and, if they’re not doing well, ask questions and seek the help you need. Empower yourself enough to love yourself enough.” – Nancy Davis Rickel, Founder Race to Erase MS.

Today, due to the significant strides in research, 85% of patients with remitting MS can have their symptoms wiped out thanks to therapeutics on the market. While there is ongoing research for 15% of those with primary progressive MS, there is no denying that much work still needs to be done to cure MS fully.

Now, the long-term cure for MS no longer seems to be a pipedream with the latest developments in science and technology. For Nancy, she remains hopeful that there will come a time when the disease will be cured entirely, ‘I am a hopeful person, and in my experience with having the disease and working to eradicate it, I have great faith that this will happen. And I say this because of our incredible strides over the last three decades.’ A perfect example would be the ongoing HIV cure treatments already being tested out in Germany and The United States.

Aside from that, Nancy also set up CAN (Cure Addiction Now) as a way to tackle the two most critical areas of addiction: withdrawal and cravings through science and research. The NGO aims to uncover treatments for these areas and find effective therapeutics to combat substance use disorder. ‘We want to ensure it is accessible to every person battling this disease. Rehab costs range between $25,000 and $75,000 a month. Most people require at least six months of rehabilitation services, and insurance often doesn’t cover these costs.’

Nancy Davis with Kris Jenner for Rase Erase MS


Since its inception in 1993, Race to Erase MS has sought to change how people perceive MS. Due to the immense efforts made by Mrs Nancy Davis, the non-profit organization now includes a global community of doctors and scientists that keeps on expanding each year from all corners of the globe. ‘I would be open to expanding that work and collaborating even further with brilliant scientists from around the globe.’

  With the new generation coming, Nancy firmly believes that they have a greater sense of hope and are no longer fearful about getting their diagnosis due to the number of treatment options available to them and their ability to raise awareness for future advancements made with MS since it can occur at any point between the ages of 20 and 40. ‘Greater awareness about the disease will also lead to earlier diagnosis, and the sooner you are treated for your MS, the better your prognosis.

Cover Photo: https://www.gracefries.com/

For more on Race to Erase MS, click here

IG: racetoerasems

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