Eleven Washingtonians whose commitment to helping others makes Washington a better place to live. Washington Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman has been hitting them out of the park since he was a little-leaguer in Virginia Beach. The first player drafted by the Nats in 2005, he formed his own team, the ziMS Foundation, the next year to find better treatments and a cure for multiple sclerosis. Zimmerman’s mom, Cheryl, was diagnosed with MS when he was 11. The disease affects the central nervous system unpredictably, and its progress varies. Hers worsened from tingling in the fingers and toes to increased fatigue to inability to walk.
Zimmerman remembers when his parents told him and his brother about her disease: “Dad said, ‘It could be worse.’ ” The ziMS Foundation has raised $3 million–plus for research and treatment. Zimmerman is a major financial contributor to ziMS and helps fund a camp for kids of those with MS. One of the most enthusiastic board members is his mother, of whom he observes: “She has a great attitude. She says, ‘Things are going to happen no matter what. You might as well enjoy life and be positive.’ ”