Daily Point of Light # 3045 Oct 6, 2005

Alan Karpinski brings a contagious, kind-hearted spirit to his workplace, Aetna’s High Point, NC office. Coworkers say, he “gives light to everyone he comes in contact with” and “his compassion for others cannot be matched.”

In recent years, he has devoted much of that passion and his free time to raising funds for the local Multiple Sclerosis Society, including its Tour to Tanglewood, an annual bike ride. In 2004, he persuaded 27 people, coworkers and non-employees – many of them just weekend riders – to participate in the two-day, 90 mile event.

In preparation for the big ride, he organized and led evening and weekend training rides for “Team Aetna” and promised them that “no one will finish last alone.” He kept his word, crossing the finish line with the last rider of the team. The group raised $27,200, including a match from his employer. The MS Society awarded them a bronze medal for the amount raised and for increasing the number of participants over the previous year and named Alan “captain of the year.”

Alan also encouraged many Team Aetna members to partner with MS patients through the Linking Lives Program. Besides raising money for MS research through the Tanglewood event, he collects pledges and donations for each trip when he bikes to work, as many as 100 days a year. “When its 30 degrees out and you see Alan pedaling up on his bike, you can’t help but support his efforts,” said one coworker.

Michelle Zwissler, Special Events Manager for the local MS Society, says his leadership has inspired her organization to reach for, and achieve more ambitions goals. She gave him much credit for the Society reaching the $100,000 mark from the last tour. Another beneficiary of Alan’s dedication to the MS Society is Carolyn Moore, who says his fundraising and enthusiasm have dramatically improved her quality of life and others who, like her, suffer from MS. “I no longer have mornings in which I question whether it’s worth getting out of bed.” She says those with MS wonder every morning whether it will be a “good day” or a “bad day.” On bad days the simplest tasks, such as brushing one’s hair, are impossible, she said. Alan motivates and brings joy to everyone around him, she says. Co-chairman of the Aetna Volunteer Council in High Point, Alan has been a spirited leader and participant in many other projects, including the American Cancer society Relay for Life, Triad Health Project, Winter Walk for AIDS, Greensboro Human Race Walk, Make-A-Wish foundation, Project Linus, Santa for Seniors and Support the Troops.

Recognizing Alan’s energy, devotion and impressive contributions to the MS Society and the community, Aetna recognized him with its 2005 Aetna Voice of Conscience employee award. The honor included $25,000 to be shared with nonprofit organizations of his choice: Central North Carolina Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Camp Carefree, Greensboro Urban Ministry Food Bank and Triad Health Project.