Art Therapy

Even when Actress Sharon Elliott was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in her late twenties, she knew she would have a place on the stage.  But she didn’t know how she would make a difference to those with the same challenges she faces daily.

“There are a lot of people who know someone that has been diagnosed, and I feel that it has been placed within me from God that this was a part of my mission,” Elliot said.

Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a disease that causes the immune system to eat away at the protective covering of nerves. MS causes many effects on the body including vision loss, pain, fatigue and impaired coordination. The symptoms, severity and duration can vary.

Elliot had always had a passion for theater since high school. Despite her MS, she never let it prevent her from doing what she loves.

Elliot keeps her body healthy; her daily routine includes waking up early to do stretches, early morning jogs and constant diets.

“I do yoga [because] one of the biggest symptoms is stiffness. I do cardio when I can, which includes Zumba. Even if some people [with MS] can do it sitting down even though they have problems getting up,” Elliott said.

Elliot founded a non-profit organization for women with MS in 2003. She provides comfort to those who have been diagnosed with MS. Her productions are based on stories that give truth and testimonies to people with MS.

 “Women Standing in the Gap was inspired by my own personal challenges.  I was diagnosed while working full time at a company that I had been with for seven years,” Elliott said.“I was looking forward to fully utilizing my MBA degree in the corporate world. Shortly after my official diagnosis, my health challenges drastically changed my life. My focus changed.  I had to undertake a new career, managing the MS.”

Elliot has helped many women with MS find their voices, including H-F alumna Brenda James, who has grown from being afraid to audition to earning lead roles in upcoming productions.

“I was nervous. I didn’t want my illness to defeat me just because I had this. I felt as if I had enough faith to be stronger my mind and body would be,” James said.

Nearly 2.5 million people around the world have MS with cases diagnosed nearly every week. For Elliott, it is just another thing to drive her to help others.

“The productions will inspire people to never give up no matter what obstacles they may be faced with. They will demonstrate how to turn tests into testimonies,” Elliot said.

All for one Elliot gathers around with her actors in her previous play, MS monologues. Elliot has been counseling MS patients since 2003.