The family of Idyllwild native Sterling Dutton, 39, are rallying around
him after he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) this last

His sister Marissa, presently in New York, has started a GoFundMe page
with the goal of raising $75,000 to help pay for “finding and receiving
cognitive and physical therapies.” Sterling also will need to plot a
career change; he has had to close his house-painting business. “He will
need help with his rent and bills while he heals and figures out what
his next chapter looks like.”

Sterling Dutton
Photo courtesy of the Duttons

Beyond the physical symptoms like numbness and loss of balance that rule
out a life on ladders, environmental toxins like the chemicals in paint
are considered risk factors for MS. “That career is over. We need to
build a different career and a new path for him,” said his mother Myra

Marissa described the incident that led the family to take Sterling to
the hospital; waking up with one side of his body and both arms numb,
like a stroke. His diagnosis is Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis
(RRMS), and is the most common form, defined by acute episodes of
disability and potentially long periods of partial or complete recovery.
There is no known cure, but many promising treatments.

The National Institutes of Health say that MS is not inherited, but
susceptibility may be, with “possibly hundreds of variations in genetic
code” combining to “create vulnerability.” Myra said “Unfortunately,
it’s in our blood line. I didn’t get it, my siblings didn’t, but an aunt
had it.”

Myra explained that although the family is just at the beginning of
processing the news, other plans are emerging. In addition to selling
Sterling’s tools of the trade, his father Roger Dutton would like to
arrange an auction of his own paintings, a body of work familiar to many
Idyllwilders. “He has shown his work in Los Angeles, San Diego and San

Marissa is using her many contacts in New York to arrange some kind of
sale of photographic prints there to benefit her brother. Myra already
is envisioning a path forward for her son: “Sterling is artistic
himself. It would be nice if he can pursue his artwork. He’s a

The website for his business, Sterling Painting Pro, in addition to
foregrounding values like honesty and attention to detail, speaks of how
his artistic ability helps him “map out projects with a strong attention
to detail.”

After only seven hours, the GoFundMe page had collected more than
$10,000. Myra described the response as “heartwarming.” Marissa added,
“It’s just overwhelming when you see people coming together to support
you. It’s people who have known him his whole life, and others who have
yet to meet him. It buoys our hopes in times like this. It's certainly
affected him, put him in a more hopeful and positive place.”

To contribute, click here.