Winter Park MS Walk set for Saturday
May 20, 2008
Locals will make strides along U.S. Highway 40 on Saturday to raise funds and awareness for multiple sclerosis research.
Lou Thompson is organizing the fourth MS Walk in Winter Park. She started the local fundraiser, and what started with eight walkers grew to about 150 last year, and generated $10,000 for research. She hopes to raise the same amount this year.
Funds go to the National MS Society in Denver.
“It definitely makes me feel empowered that I am doing something,” Thompson said. “We get all ages and walks-of-life. We get dogs and kids in strollers. And some people who can’t walk as far as others.”
The five-mile walk starts at Hideaway Park in Winter Park, and goes past Trademark Condominiums and back. People can come around 9:30 a.m. to register. The walk usually starts around 10 a.m. and finishes by noon. Rain or shine, the event goes on.
“They can turn around at any point,” Thompson said.
People make donations for the walk. “They can give whatever they want,” she said.
Thompson has previously done all the work herself. Last year’s turnout gained notice from the National MS Society. This year, the organization will help run the event and send volunteers to the county.
“They are providing a lot of manpower,” Thompson said.
Century 21 and Curves also will support the event.
The walk has created awareness in the valley, Thompson said.
“It’s definitely made people realize how widespread (MS) is,” she added. “You come across everyone who is connected to it somehow.”
Her husband Rusty and two children, Gray and Annie, participate in the walk along with friends.
“There were a couple people (at the walk) last year I didn’t know.,” Thompson said. “I think I know everybody in Grand County who has MS.”
Thompson was diagnosed with MS shortly after she moved to Grand County, about eight years ago.
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic disease of the central nervous system that attacks nerve fibers. About 400,000 Americans have MS, and every week about 200 people are diagnosed, statistics show.
Anyone can get MS. However, symptoms usually first appear in people when they are between the ages of 20 and 40. Caucasians are twice as likely to develop MS as other races. Females have two to three times the chance of being diagnosed than males, according to Health Talk Web site.
While a cure for MS has not been found, drugs and other therapies help control symptoms so patients can maintain their quality of life. Those who develop the disease before the age of 30 usually continue to walk and work with little disability for more than 20 years, the site states.
The National MS Society is devoted to finding research to “prevent, better treat and cure this unpredictable disease of the brain and spinal cord.” It supports the cause with nearly $50 million annually, the Web site said.
For more information about MS visit http://www.walkms.org.