Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Friend's struggle sparked an MS mission

Jackie Callaway and Michele Green shared a special bond during their early 20s.

Like many young women, they went out to eat, watched movies and just enjoyed sharing stories in a small Central Florida community north of Tampa.

Through the years, they kept in touch as Callaway's broadcasting career took her to a radio station in Tampa, then to a television station in Orlando. Michele blossomed too, working at an insurance agency and becoming the quintessential soccer mom with two young children.

One day in the late 1990s, Jackie was preparing to do a live shot in Lake County for the Orlando station. A car pulled over and a voice called out, "Hey Jackie, it's Michele."

"Her mom was driving, and I didn't recognize Michele, the vibrant light of a person I knew," said Callaway, now the consumer reporter for WFTS-Ch. 28. "She tells me right there on the side of the road that she has multiple sclerosis. She starts crying, and I'm fighting back tears.

"From then on, we stayed connected."

Callaway began visiting Michele on a regular basis, first at Michele's home, then at a nursing home as the MS slowly took her life.

"I had never experienced anything like that," Callaway said. "I was clueless about MS until watching Michele go through it. I kept asking friends, can't we do something about this terrible disease?"

Michele died in 2002, but Callaway's passion to help lives on.

Six years ago, she went to the local MS Society with a simple request: put me to work. She has dedicated time to raising funds for the Multiple Sclerosis Society, including a stint as honorary chair of the society's annual Tampa Walk.

Along the way, she met Ben and Ande Felder and got involved with their casino night fundraiser called MaSquerade. The Felders, one of my favorite families, have staged the event since 2002 and each and every dime goes to the MS Society. Callaway will be on hand for the seventh annual MaSquerade on Saturday.

Driven by the fact that their daughter, Megan, deals with the daily challenges of MS, Ben, Ande, Megan and sister Jenna work nine months out of the year for this one grand night. They have gone from an inaugural event that netted $7,000 to the 2007 event that raised more than $20,000.

Megan's unyielding zest for life inspires all who attend.

Unfortunately, a previous commitment will keep me from attending this year. But I've put together a gift basket for the silent auction that includes four tickets in the tbt* Party Deck for Thursday's Rays game against the Minnesota Twins, two tickets to the USF-University of Pittsburgh football game, two Lightning tickets in the Times suite and — drumroll — lunch with me at 220 East on Davis Islands.

I expect big bids because of the tickets, not for the chance to dine with me (though the food is really good at 220 East). I also expect big bids because something good should come from the cruelty of such a debilitating disease. Like a cure.

That's all I'm saying.

>>If you go

MaSquerade 2008

When: Saturday, 7 p.m.

Where: Sam & Martha Gibbons Alumni Center, University of South Florida.

What: A Silent Auction and Raffle, poker, blackjack tables, open bar, food from Bonefish Grill.

Tickets: $75-$100,

Friend's struggle sparked an MS mission 09/12/08 [Last modified: Monday, September 15, 2008 3:33pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Memorial Day sales not enough to draw shoppers to Tampa Bay malls


    TAMPA — Memorial Day sales at Tampa Bay area malls were not enough to compete with the beach and backyard barbecues this holiday weekend.

    Memorial Day sales weren't enough to draw shoppers to Tampa Bay area malls over the long weekend. 
  2. Austin software company acquires second Tampa business


    Austin, Tex.-based Asure Software acquired Tampa's Compass HRM Inc. late last week for $6 million. Compass focuses on HR and payroll.

    [Company photo]
  3. Hackers hide cyberattacks in social media posts


    SAN FRANCISCO — It took only one attempt for Russian hackers to make their way into the computer of a Pentagon official. But the attack didn't come through an email or a file buried within a seemingly innocuous document.

    Jay Kaplan and Mark Kuhr, former NSA employees and co-founders of Synack, a cybersecurity company, in their office in Palo Alto, Calif., in 2013. While last year's hacking of senior Democratic Party officials raised awareness of the damage caused if just a handful of employees click on the wrong emails, few people realize that a message on Twitter or Facebook could give an attacker similar access to their system. 
[New York Times file photo]
  4. On average, a quarter of Transformation Zone staff not returning next school year


    Combined, nearly one in four teachers staffed at eight schools in the Pinellas County school district's Transformation Zone will not return to their school in the fall.

  5. New Port Richey police investigating shooting that left one man wounded

    Public Safety

    NEW PORT RICHEY — A man was shot and wounded Saturday after police said he assaulted a restaurant employee.