BECU Supports Member In Cross Country Drive For MS

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Boeing Employees CU handed the ball over to Carlo Magno for the credit union member's cross-country jaunt to raise $1 million for Multiple Sclerosis research during BECU Family Night at major league baseball's Safeco Park.

The $6-billion CU invited Magno, a BECU member and paraplegic sufferer of MS, to throw out the first pitch at a recent game between the Seattle Mariners and the Kansas City Royals before he embarks on a transcontinental journey to New York by electric wheelchair to benefit MS research. "This gives Carlos greater exposure for his fund-raising effort and to help him towards his goal," said Tom Berquist, chief spokesman for the credit union giant.

Magno will make the 4,300-mile MS Express across the northern U.S. in a 1955 Autoette Cruisabout electric wheelchair that has been certified for highway travel. He will be accompanied by his dog Katie and a team of attendants.

Along the way, the well-known handicapped-access advocate will visit places known for their handicapped accessibility and bring home ideas to incorporate in local communities, according to Dana Blozis, a spokesman for The Spirit of Hope Foundation, the charitable organization headed by Magno.

Magno was referred to BECU by his local credit union North Coast CU, in Bellingham, which made the initial contact with the credit union giant, according to Blozis. BECU, which is one of the Seattle Mariners' corporate partners, sponsors half-price family night every Monday at the stadium, and gets to designate a person to throw out the first pitch at each of its games. The first pitch is seen by millions of Puget Sound-area baseball fans.

"Since I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis nine years ago, it has been my dream to throw out the first pitch at a Major League Baseball game just to prove I could do it." said Magno. "Coupled with the launch of the MS Express, I couldn't ask for more. I have the Mariners and BECU to thank for making this dream come true."

"Carlos has been planning this trip for a couple of years and, for a variety of reasons, it's been postponed for several tries," said Blozis. "BECU pulled together their connections and their resources and helped make it possible."

Magno, of Anacortes, Wash., is the president and founder of The Spirit of Hope Foundation, which is dedicated to raising awareness for handicapped accessibility and quality of life issues.

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