Multiple sclerosis can impair mobility, but people attending the annual awards gala for National MS Society's Minnesota chapter were mobilizing against the disease.

The nonprofit handed out dozens of "Sylvies," an award named in honor of the MS Society's founder, Sylvia Lawry. The National Volunteer of the Year honoree was retired physical therapist Tom Holtackers of Rochester, who was diagnosed with MS more than 30 years ago.

Holtackers has created fitness programs to help make exercise easy and more accessible for people with MS. "I want to be in the best physical shape possible so I may enjoy the cure and reversal of MS when it comes to be, which I believe will be in my lifetime," he said.

Holtackers said volunteering for the MS Society has become an integral part of his life. "It's a double reward," he said. "There's the altruism of giving back and, by helping others, I learn about myself."

Sara Glassman • 612-673-7177