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Banding against MS - Country music star, Clay Walker, says the 'best is yet to come
Banding against MS - Country music star, Clay Walker, says the 'best is yet to come' Anyone with MS must find a physician who really listens and works aggressively on your case

Imagine being at the top of a successful music career and then being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). Adding further to this crushing blow was having a doctor tell you to get your life in order because you are going to die.

That was the scenario that came to country music star, Clay Walker in 1996.

"I was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis(RRMS), which is the most common form of multiple sclerosis," says Clay. "But now, I am relapse free, am confident, and just want to encourage others with my story."

Walker claims the key to living with MS is to seek out a specialist in the disease, find a routine that works for you and stick with it. The right meds, diet, and exercise are also vital. "Anyone with MS must find a physician who really listens and works aggressively on your case," he says.

One has to admire Walker for his stance and having the courage to speak out. Often times, celebrities in the entertainment business tend to hide their illnesses because they fear being discounted by their fans. But in Walker's case, he not only speaks publicly about his condition, but has even established a charity—Band Against MS—because he wanted to help others living with the same disease he has battled. Band Against MS Inc. is a not-for-profit organization committed to encouraging those with MS to work with their doctors finding appropriate treatment and management of the disease; funding research that seeks a cure for MS; and providing support for programs that offer assistance to those with MS. "Band Against MS has done very well in reaching its objectives and will continue to help many people in their fight," Walker says.

Though Walker is committed to helping people with MS, he is also committed to honoring the people who serve in the U.S. military. There was hardly a dry eye left in the audience at the Rachel Ray show last year after he sang his military tribute—Like We Never Said Goodbye. "These men and women give their lives and do so much good for our country. We can't do enough to honor them," says Walker. The song is from his CD, She Won't Be Lonely Long.

Walker has another love in his life–wife Jessica Craig, a model, who is pregnant with their third child. The newest Walker will join siblings, William, five and Mary, four.
Walker has another love in his life–wife Jessica Craig, a model, who is pregnant with their third child. The newest Walker will join siblings, William, five and Mary, four. Walker said it is tough following a rigorous touring schedule with family, but he is keeping a well-tuned ear for the ringing of the phone when the baby is about to arrive, which by the way may have already rung by the time this feature is published.

Walker found his love for music through his family who won several music contests in his home town and surrounding area of Beaumont, Texas. "I started singing at age four, and at age nine I got my first guitar. We (family) did a lot of singing in contests and made a few singles."

But in 1993, Walker's musical career sky-rocketed after he handed a local radio DJ a single he had made. Although the morning disc jockey told him that the station's policies prohibited playing self-submitted tapes, he played Walker's song and said that it was "too good to pass up." Walker later released his self-titled debut album under James Stroud, a record producer who was also the president of Warner Music Group subsidiary Giant Records. His first single was What's It to You; written by Robert Ellis Orrall and Curtis Wright, this song reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks (now Hot Country Songs) charts and number seventy-three on the Billboard Hot 100. His smooth, evocative voice and energetic stage presence quickly established Walker as the latest Texas export to find national acclaim, and a lengthy string of hits has followed. Since then, Walker has been on the top charts thirty-one times, has four platinum albums, and two gold. Not too bad for a Texas boy whose claim to fame before music was rodeo champ, with his horse Maddie, at the Houston Livestock Rodeo, the largest rodeo in the United States.

Possibly, Walker's soar to fame is a result of his determination and an attitude of never giving less than one hundred percent. Some have said that his dedicated work ethic combined with God-given talent has made him one of the most successful country acts of the past decade.

His musical career and fame are impressive feats, made even more special because of the MS diagnosis. "If you'd asked me when I was diagnosed that first day if I would still be alive, I would have said 'No' because that's what the doctor's said," he admits. "Here I am, sixteen years later and actually, I'm probably healthier than I was then."

After more than a decade in the national spotlight, Clay Walker believes the best is yet to come. "I trust my gut more than ever now," he says. "I definitely don't feel like a rookie, but at the same time, I think the best years of my recording career are ahead of me. I believe if the good Lord wants it, who's going to stop it?"

You can follow Clay on his Stick With It mission at http://www.facebook.com//stickwithitRRMS.

Photos of Clay Walker by Angela Talley

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"Banding against MS - Country music star, Clay Walker, says the 'best is yet to come"
   authored by:
WRITER
Patricia Kirby brings several years of journalism, editing, and publishing experience to Radius magazine. She is a published writer and former co-editor of Hoosier Outdoor magazine, with a distribution throughout the mid-west. Patricia is also a form...



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