Well-known public figures with CFS include Laura Hillenbrand, Michelle
Akers, Amy Peterson, Keith Jarrett and Jackson Parkhurst. These individuals have been willing to raise awareness
of this devastating illness by speaking out about how it has affected their lives and careers.
Laura Hillenbrand, author of the
best-selling book “Seabiscuit: An American Legend,” has been battling CFS for the past 16 years. Hillenbrand took four years to write Seabiscuit due to her illness and has talked publicly about the price her body has paid to complete it. She has helped raise awareness of the illness through hundreds of interviews for print, broadcast and radio media. She is serving as a consultant to the producers of the full-length feature film based on the book that stars Tobey Maguire and Jeff Bridges.
Michelle Akers, star of the U.S. women's soccer team, has acknowledged publicly the extraordinary adjustments she has made in her life to be able to play despite her CFS, and that has led to extensive media coverage of the illness. In August of 2000, Akers stepped down from the U.S. Olympic team due in part to "a weariness of the constant maintenance of CFS necessary in order to be able to perform at the international level."
Other athletes have struggled with CFS, including speedskater Amy
Peterson, a five-time Olympian, who was recently interviewed on the TODAY Show about the challenges that CFS has
posed. Peterson was a medal winner in the 1992 and 1994 Winter Olympics and has been outspoken about her difficult comeback road following the onset of CFS five years ago. She competed in the 2002 Winter Olympics, but did not win a medal.
Keith Jarrett, one of the world's most popular jazz pianists, has spent
more than four years living with CFS. He became ill during a 1996 concert tour in Italy, cancelled all his concert dates, and went home to rural New Jersey to focus on getting better. He has now begun performing and recording again, but acknowledges that he is still recovering.
Former symphony conductor Jackson Parkhurst is still
hoping for recovery. In the early 1990's, Parkhurst was conducting 65 to 70 concerts a year for the North Carolina Symphony. He developed CFS in 1993, and a severe exacerbation of the illness during a concert in 1995 made him realize that he could no longer keep conducting.
See the media coverage section of www.cfids.org for recent articles about celebrities who have CFS.