I don’t know when I decided to become a politician. I don’t even know if I consciously made the decision. I love talking to people and doing what I can to make their lives easier, so when the citizens of Fairborn said I should run for Council, I did. I am now serving my second and last term. Council members are, by Ordinance, limited to eight consecutive years in office. I have 192 days left of my eight years. I know that number because my wife has a countdown widget on her phone.
I suppose I also became a public servant to stand up for the “little guy.” On April 28, 2010, I became one of the little guys. That is the day I was diagnosed with Multiple System Atrophy (MSA). For those of you that haven’t heard of this disease, it is an extremely rare neurological
disorder that ravishes your body and takes complete control of it. It will shut down any of your physical systems at any time, without notice. There is currently no treatment and no cure.
After my diagnosis, I did some soul searching. I knew with my Council days ending, I would have to find a new hobby, or a new house. My wife, as supportive as she is, would not be able to stand me without something to occupy my time. I read every article I could find on MSA and found that only approximately 50,000 Americans have it, and there is not much in the way of public awareness. Hey! A little guy! I can do that.
Early this year, I read that March was being declared Multiple Systems Awareness Month by www.msaawareness.org. I would be the self-proclaimed advocate for MSA in the Miami Valley. I immediately contacted the area cities and was warmly received and each city presented a proclamation declaring March as MSA Awareness Month. Their efforts are most greatly appreciated! Thus my journey to make as many people aware of MSA started.
My first Proclamation was present by the Beavercreek, Ohio City Council. It was the first time I would publicly speak about my disease and the torture my body is enduring. It was the first time I would publicly admit that this disease was going to beat me and I was going to die. I was going to do that in a room full of strangers with only a few close friends on hand.
There was a lot going on at the meeting. The Council, after giving me their Proclamation, was making a decision on allowing RTA buses into their city. It was an emotionally charged evening. What I didn’t notice was that there was a young gentleman, only 16 years old that attended the meeting. He was sitting right in front of me, and unfortunately I was not aware of the impact I was about to make on his life.
Earlier this week, I received a letter from this young man. I am sharing it with each of you. It brought tears to my eyes and a warming to my heart knowing that I am making a difference. Not only to my citizens in Fairborn, but I am also reaching nearby communities.
Here is the letter, exactly as it was written:
The Honorable Frank Cervone
Dear Councilor Cervone,
I have read about your story and about how you face your predicament with strength, pride, and frankness. And out of every public or private figure I know, your story truly Inspired me and truly brought me hope.
Not too many people who face death in the eye would live a life of such determination and pride as you do. I know that if I ever faced a problem such as you face, I would be Surrounded by the darkness of fear and would coward in retreat. You, sir, have done no such thing. You have used your position and your problem for good, and not hide in shame.
I do not live in Fairborn. I live in Beavercreek, and I first heard of your story when our City Council gave a proclamation for MSA awareness. I was at that meeting, barely ten Feet from you, and I could sense the pain that you were going through, but more so, I could sense your pride and your strength and you honor.
As someone who is a young man, I am 16, you have inspired me to go out and advance an issue that I so hardily believe in, to go as far as I can – to the end if necessary. As you are doing for MSA, and will ultimately do.
I just want to thank you for your service to the great city of Fairborn, and more so, thank you for your service to society. You may not think it yourself, but you are doing so much good for this state and you are helping benefit many.
History often mistakenly reserves the “hero” label for those who succeed in the end. But sometimes the greatest heroes in fact lose the war, but even in the face of defeat refuse to compromise, refuse to give up; determined to go down swinging. Councilor Cervone, you are a hero. You are refusing to compromise. You are refusing to give up. And you will go down swinging.
It’s not about how many hits you can give, it’s about how many hits you can take and keep moving forward. What you are willing to take to get what you want. You have Taking hit after hit, but you got to keep moving forward so you don’t fail.
Keep fighting for MSA awareness and keep inspiring many. Thank you so much for giving myself Hope.
Ryan A. Rushing
It is people like Ryan that make me get up everyday and push for the little guy. I am so glad that I can be an inspiration to him. I hope he will also take up the fight. If everyone would have the same attitude, this world would be a much better place.
Ryan A. Rushing, I thank you.
NOTE: I will not be submitting a blog on June 4 or June 11. I will be taking time to check off a couple of items from my “bucket list’. Susan and I are finally taking the vacation we have always dreamed of. I am going to Italy to set foot on the land my family came from. I can not explain how excited I am. I was overwhelmed by emotion when I visited Ellis Island with my Aunt Rose, God rest her soul, as I imagined my grandparents there going through the immigration process with her as a small baby. You cannot imagine how I feel about going to the land they were from.
I will update everyone on my progress and my journey on June 18. I wish everyone a happy and safe Memorial Day. Please remember this is not only the beginning of summer, but a time to remember those that gave their lives so we can live in freedom!