Pr. Tom Unrath, Messiah, Cocoa, was presented the MS Activist of the Year award from the Mid-Florida Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) in December, 2017. This award was given to Pr. Unrath for his work in raising, not just general awareness, but specific awareness among political leaders who can shape laws and budgets. Pr. Unrath was speaking with local State Senators and Representatives, as well as addressing concerns to US senators and Representatives.
Pr. Unrath was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2003, resulting in his decision to retire from the Air Force, where he had served as an active duty chaplain since 1987. He served tours around the world beginning at McDill Air Force Base in Tampa and ending at Patrick Air Force Base, near Cocoa Beach. Ordained in 1982, Pr. Unrath served Immanuel Lutheran Church in East Rutherford, NJ, where he was in the US Air Force Reserves as a chaplain.
Pr. Unrath and his wife, Anita, settled in Melbourne, where, after retiring from the Air Force, he served 3 congregations as interim pastor before accepting a call to Messiah, Cocoa, where he serves now.
Since his diagnosis with MS, Pr. Unrath has been active in the Central Brevard MS Self Help group. This group is associated with the National MS Society’s Mid Florida Chapter. Since 2005 he has been active in raising funds for the NMSS through their annual MS Walk program. There are walks each spring around the country and he has been involved with the Brevard Walk during that time. He has been raising awareness for the NMSS which supports research seeking to end MS. He was asked to attend the annual “Tally Watch” program in January 2016 and joined other MS activists in Tallahassee to address FL State legislators. He returned last April as well and plans to attend again in 2018. In March 2017, he was asked to join activists from around the country at the annual NMSS Public Policy Conference in Washington DC where he met with legislators and their staffs to address concerns at the national level.
Last summer, Pr. Unrath was asked to join the NMSS Activism Advisory Council which sets priorities for addressing concerns to legislators at the national and state level. He is also on the peer review panel for the MS Research Program.