03

Apr

Firefighter Continues To Serve After 25 Years With MS

Dan Pimenta

Dan Pimenta appeared to have it all at age 28, but a diagnosis changed his life forever.

He began experiencing numbness on the right side of his head that soon spread to his arm, foot and leg. He was initially diagnosed with lyme disease before finally being told he had multiple sclerosis.

Doctors told him his career as a firefighter was over and that he’d be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. The stress and anxiety of the diagnosis, coupled with he and his wife having recently had a baby, caused him to lose 50 pounds.

But 25 years later, Pimenta is still fighting fires in Tremont, Mass.

Shortly after his diagnosis he met Dr. Andrew Leader-Cramer, a neurologist at Salem Hospital. He changed Pimenta’s diet and got him on a medication and exercise regimen. He hasn’t had a significant MS-related episode since then.

Since that initial diagnosis, Pimenta has done numerous races and charitable events to support the National Multiple Sclerosis Society – he just did the MS Climb to the Top on March 4 (61 flights of stairs up the former Hancock Tower in Boston) – but to mark 25 years, he felt it was time to do something bigger and go public.

Members of the Fire Department are wearing custom designed T-shirts around the city’s firehouses in March for MS Awareness Month. The blue shirts, designed by Todd’s Sporting Goods in Beverly, bear the department’s maltese cross on the front with the words “Peabody Fire Rescue” and “MS Awareness Because It Matters” on the back.

A dozen firefighters will also don racing jerseys as the Peabody Fire Honor Guard team to join Pimenta this year to ride 150 miles over two days in June from Quincy to Provincetown for the Bike MS: Cape Cod Getaway. This will be Pimenta’s eighth ride.

While Pimenta still sees Dr. Leader-Cramer for regular visits, he even went off his MS medication three years ago and hasn’t had any issues as a result.

“Most people say: ‘You look fine, you look like you did in high school,’” he said to the Associated Press. “They’re surprised to hear I have MS.”