Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1966, writer Trevis L. Gleason had lived a life many would consider quite full by the time he was diagnosed with Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis in 2001 at the age of 35.
Gleason forewent scholarships in the field of music education to join the United States Coast Guard in 1985. As he had in high school music and athletics, he confronted new challenges and exceeded expectations at every turn; becoming the youngest person ever to be named Coast Guardsman Of The Year at the Service’s annual Coast Guard Festival in Grand Haven, Michigan in August of 1986.
After nearly 7 years sailing the Atlantic, Pacific, Barring and the Great Lakes as an accomplished navigator for the Coast guard, Gleason took another tack and plotted a new course in the culinary world.
Studying at the revered New England Culinary Institute under Chef Michel LeBorgne (No Crying In The Kitchen – Public Press 2009), Gleason once again excelled, representing the school at the prestigious “Salute To Excellence” held by the National Restaurant Association in 1992. Honing his culinary skills around professional kitchens in New England and New York, Gleason settled into what he expected to be a nice, long position at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration.
Within three years, however, Gleason was named as a Goodwill Ambassador to the former Soviet Republic of Ukraine by the US Agency for International Development (USAID). During his time in Ukraine, Gleason put his new-found love of artisan bread baking to use as he helped several farmer/owners of local bread bakeries in the new, Free Economy to increase their production (by as much as 40%) without adding labor or expense. He also helped establish a cooperative granary and mill for the local farmers with the help of international financing and the UN’s World Bank.
Upon Return to the United States, Chef Trevis moved to San Francisco, California to take a directorial position with the California Culinary Academy where he opened and ran several cooking schools for the Academy around that state. A later position with a German foodservice equipment manufacturer had him flying approximately 250,000 miles per year around North America and Europe.
All of this changed in April 2001, however, when years of misdiagnosed ailments and ignored symptoms finally culminated in a stroke-like episode which led to his diagnosis with Multiple Sclerosis.
Gleason was forced to retire at the very moment his career was entering rarefied air.
The journey back from such a fall may be impossible for some – and it was nearly so for the Chef. With the help of a world-classed medical team, the dearness of old friends and a new-found batch of passionate people working to cure the disease and help those living with MS until that cure is found, Gleason has grasped the reigns of his new life and ridden not off into the sunset, but rather onto a bigger and more important stage.
Trevis Gleason is now a leading voice for people with MS and a multitude of chronic illness. His Blog, Trevis L Gleason’s Life With MS, is one of the longest running, most widely read and respected on the topic. He also writes regular blog posts for the MS Society of the United Kingdom (A Yank’s Life With MS) as well as for the National (US) Multiple Sclerosis Society (The Unspeakable Bits; From A Life With MS). His opinions are sought by elected officials and non-profit leaders. He stirs a national conversation about MS the way he once might have an elaborate consommé and while MS has stopped him from doing much he formerly found “important” there is no greater work for him, than being a voice for those who live with MS just like he does