When Michele Dandurand had to leave Providence, RI-based CPA firm Sullivan & Company in July of last year due to complications from secondary progressive multiple sclerosis, it was a difficult transition for this seasoned human resources manager who enjoys her independence and likes to be busy. She had been diagnosed with MS 22 years earlier and had been able to handle the symptoms that come with the unpredictable disease.
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But Dandurand was taking on a new role – serving as the firm's inspiration to participate in the April 18th Walk MS in Providence, which is put on by the Rhode Island Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Firm management was supportive of plans for a 13-member team to participate in the downtown, three-mile walk and provided matching funds.
For Dandurand, having her coworkers raise $2,000 and participate in Walk MS just days after tax season was an amazing feeling.
"I was in tears. I was like, 'My God! How wonderful!'" she said. "But that's the kind of firm it is."
She recalled when a Sullivan & Company coworker and his wife had a baby born with spina bifida and the employees donated their vacation time so he could be with his wife and child during medical visits and surgeries.
Dandurand is one of more than 400,000 people in the United States and 2.5 million worldwide with multiple sclerosis, which interrupts the flow of information from the brain to the body and stops people from moving. Every hour in the United States, someone is diagnosed with MS, an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system.
In addition to Walk MS, Team Sullivan has participated in the Breast Cancer walk since 1995 and in coastal clean-ups, all efforts that are designed to contribute time and energy to the community while coming together for team building and exercise. The firm also has an active golf league that has been in place for six years.
"We have participated in several charitable walks and environmental clean-ups as part of our firm's commitment to the community with the added bonus of staying fit and fostering interaction among staff. In this instance, however, our firm was motivated to get involved with Walk MS as a direct result of our respect and affection for our longtime office manager who is struggling with MS. Her vibrant and dynamic personality helped shape our culture over the last 20 years. Her positive mental outlook and never-give-up attitude continues to be an inspiration to us all," stated Timothy Sullivan, CPA, managing partner and founder of Sullivan & Company.
With more than sixty employees, Sullivan & Company is the area's leading independent public accounting firm serving public companies, privately held and family-owned businesses, and not-for-profit organizations. The firm celebrates its 35th anniversary this year.
The Web site for Sullivan & Company states that the workers are CPAs, consultants, advisors, and administrators but they are also parents, grandparents, and caregivers of parents. "We are volunteers, music lovers, runners, and Little League coaches. Team Sullivan, Sullivan & Company's volunteer community service corps, helps not-for-profit organizations throughout Rhode Island. Volunteers contribute their time, talent and skills to support initiatives that enhance the quality of life and build community spirit."