American country music singer and songwriter Julie Roberts hid her multiple sclerosis diagnosis for five years while she continued to tour with her band, but now she's trying to let everyone know about it by encouraging others to join her this month in attempting to win $500,000 for the National MS Society through the Fit For Good challenge sponsored by wireless fitness products company FitBit. Over the past few years, she's been known for her perseverance, as she manages her life "through diet, exercise and (her) faith."
"I realized that God uses people in ways that they might never expect and maybe He wanted to use me to help others with MS, both through my story and my songs," penned Roberts in the Beyond the Music section of her website.
"I have made it my life's mission to inspire those living with this disease to keep chasing their dreams! I have also made it my goal to do all I can to connect with, and raise awareness for, organizations set up to help those live with MS."
FitBit has put up $1 million to be split between three charities, based on participants' "daily steps" toward supporting their chosen charity. In addition to the MS Society, the other two organizations in the current challenge are the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association. From Nov. 9-20, the charity that collects the most "steps" claims the grand prize of $500,000. Second place gets $350,000 and third receives $150,000.
Roberts, 36, has taken to sharing images of her number of steps on Facebook, and reminds friends: "If you want to do the challenge with me for the National MS Society, you do not have to have a FitBit tracker. Let's do this together!!"
While it took Roberts some time to accept the initial MS diagnosis, she now faces the disease with the same strength and energy she uses in her singing career, stated HealthiNation for a video entitled "True Champions MS Julie Roberts EP 1: My Story."
"Not only am I singing and performing around the country, but I am speaking most weeks out of the year to MS patients everywhere. This brings so much joy and fulfillment to my soul. I want to do all I can to lift them up so they can not only live with, but beat this disease," Roberts said.
"I believe it was God who gave me another chance at life with the flood rescue (in Nashville during May 2010) and I wasn't going to waste it," Roberts told CNN in 2014.
During that flood, Roberts, and her mother and sister, lost their home and nearly all their possessions. "The stress from the flood brought on a relapse of my MS, which I could no longer ignore. At that point, I decided to accept that MS is part of who I am, and that I needed to learn how to manage it in order to continue living my dreams," stated Roberts in the video.