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Award-winning chocolatier from Mount Vernon isn't letting disease slow her down

Karen Neugebauer, owner of Forte Chocolates, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2013.

MOUNT VERNON, Wash — Karen Neugebauer built one of the world’s top ten artisan chocolate companies – and she’s not letting a debilitating disease slow her down.

She owns and operates Forte Chocolates in Mount Vernon, specializing in hand-made delicacies, bars, and edible art.

It's the most highly-awarded luxury chocolate company in America.

"I always say I'm an extremely lucky person, both good and bad luck,” Neugebauer said.

The bad luck presented itself a few years ago when Neugebauer suddenly couldn't see color in one eye. 

Doctors soon diagnosed her with Multiple Sclerosis.

The disease affected her entire right side, so Neugebauer taught herself how to work left-handed.

"MS sounds awful and it sucks, it really does, but having to understand that life could be so much more enjoyable when you focus on life and what you can do, it's actually amazing,” she said.

In fact, she ended up doing something she never even considered prior to her diagnosis – embarking on a bike ride across America.

Neugebauer believes it’s all a matter of perspective.

"We all have our things, whether you can see it or not. It's your attitude,” she said. “Life is as beautiful and as wonderful as you make it."

Forte Chocolates are available online and at the storefront in Mount Vernon.

The Ride MS: Deception Pass Classic 2019 is scheduled for September 7-8. You can sign up to join Neugebauer’s team or donate in support of her. 

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