For people living with multiple sclerosis, the loss of control can put a devastating damper on lifelong passions.
That was especially true for San Diego surfer Steve Bettis and New York City professional dancer and choreographer Amy Meisner — two successful devotees of their respective callings whose careers were cut short by the unpredictable disease, which disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body.
But a new ad campaign from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society uses virtual reality technology to help them simulate the experience of hitting the waves and dancing onstage, with 360-degree videos filmed through the eyes of a good friend. The campaign is part of the organization’s effort to spread awareness, and “share diverse and powerful solutions that defy MS.”
While reliving the experience through a headset may not match the real thing, the smiles and excitement on the faces of Bettis and Meisner show why it’s worth it all the same.
Bettis, a local surfer from Ocean Beach, California, had been surfing for more than 50 years when he was diagnosed. His balance and ability to ride the waves started to decline a few years later.
“I’m kind of a naturally happy person, and I found no reason to change that,” he says in the video. “I could complain about having MS to no end, but it’s not going to make it go away.”
Today, he keeps up a connection to the sport through his hobby of repairing surfboards.
Meisner worked as a professional dancer for years before a 1997 diagnosis took its toll on her mobility.
She continues to dance while using a wheelchair, and choreographs performances.
Both two-and-a-half-minute videos, created by ad agency Wieden+Kennedy Portland, were released in honor of MS Awareness Week, which runs March 7-13.
Print ads will accompany the videos, as well as a social media campaign with the hashtag #WeAreStrongerThanMS.
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