Actress with MS helps others with same disability

March 1, 2014 (CHICAGO)

It has been 23 years since Mierka Girden, 44, was diagnosed with MS.

She dealt with depression and sadness but realized that she had the talent to make a difference.

Girden has been an ensemble member of the Red Orchid Theatre for over 10 years. Her love for acting began as a child.

"I do a lot of theatre and I do voiceover for a living on television. . . My grandmother had a wig shop so I would wear all these wigs and become different characters," Girden said.

Six years ago, Girden wrote a one-women show about her disability.

"I wrote a play about it to kind of get it out and to educate people because MS is different for every single person that has it depending on where the lesions are in your brain or your spine," she said. "It is very physical so it was hard to do. You know being on stage for an hour and half by yourself, there is no one to help you if you get lost in the story."

Mierka says her MS is invisible.

"It affects my hands and my feet and my motor skills, so a lot of people wouldn't know that I have MS, which is a good thing," she said.

12 years ago, she created a not-for-profit to help others with similar passions.

"It's called Mookie Jam. My nickname is Mookie and I raise money to help artists with MS. Bring artists together to perform either in bands, a huge silent auction, whatever we can do in the community to raise awareness and to help someone. We've helped 12 people," she said.

Girden won $15,000 from 3 Arts last fall for her work as an actor.

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