Sunny skies and comfortable temperatures was just what the Camillus Rotary Club asked for as it celebrated its Community Recognition luncheon and welcomed News Channel 9 Chief Meteorologist Dave Longley as its keynote speaker Thursday afternoon at the Camillus Elks Lodge. The Camillus Rotary Club also recognized Camillus Chief of Police Thomas Winn as well as a special donation to the MS Resources of CNY.
Longley captivated the audience, speaking candidly about his battle with Multiple Sclerosis. Humor, interjected throughout his speech, became a comic relief for such a serious disease.
“I’ll be honest with you,” Longley said, “I’m use to talking about clouds, rain, and snow. [However] it’s really more than me; it’s all the people who are afflicted with MS.”
After the MS special in February, Longley said that there were a lot of people who have the disease that were in shock of how prevalent MS is in today’s society.
In 2004, the Oswego native noticed a tremor in his right hand. Longley thought it was too much coffee: his wife, on the other hand, thought otherwise.
“I think it’s one of the unwritten jobs of wives,” Longley said, “She said, ‘you should go get that checked out’ and I said, ‘Sure, yeah … whatever.’”
Before Longley knew it, he was in a “tube” going through the standard procedures of testing. His doctor was blunt about the diagnosis.
“’I hope you have good insurance’” Longley said about the phone call he received in regards to the results, “’because you have MS.’”
Longley does not shave or brush his teeth with his right hand. Fatigue often becomes a factor during the summertime when heat ravages Central New York and his slurred speech is evident when he is nervous, particularly in front of big crowds.
“Getting up in front of a camera is a piece of cake, I don’t see all of you” Longley joked, “I don’t care what you’re doing, I don’t want to see what you’re doing. But seeing eyeballs is a little nerve wracking for me.”
As a scientist, Longley noted that he wasn’t mad or upset in the beginning when he found out that he did indeed have MS. Instead, he was determined to find answers. “Why did this happen?” and “What can be done to beat it?” were just some of the thoughts that occupied his mind on a daily basis. Longley exhausted his resources, reading and researching for more information on this disease. Although he found out that it wasn’t curable, there was a light at the end of the tunnel.
“30 years when you were told you had MS,” Longley said, “you knew you were more than likely going to end up in a wheelchair. The medicines they have and alternative therapies that are coming out [today] are wonderful.”
Longley said he notices that everyday things continue, “You just have to keep plugging away.”
The meteorologist wouldn’t change his outlook on life for nothing. His obsession with weather fronts, snow and thunderstorms— something that he has carried with him since childhood— is showcased every night when he foreshadows the local weather for the CNY community.
“I felt that it was time for me to come out,” Longley said, “not just for me, but for all the people afflicted with MS. I wanted let others know that they aren’t alone. I want to show them that you can lead a normal life.”
Christina Alexander is the editor of the Eagle Observer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org