Walk to Fight “Canada’s Disease”
Prince George, B.C. – Canada has the highest rate of multiple sclerosis in the world, with 100,000 Canadians currently living with the disease including 12,000 here in BC.
There is no definitive answer which explains that fact, although the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada states that a combination of genetics, environment and risk factors such as obesity, smoking, viruses and Vitamin D status are all at play. Also unknown at this time is why women are three times more likely to develop the disease than men.
MS is a chronic disease of the central nervous system comprising the brain, spinal cord and optic nerve. It is one of the most common neurological diseases affecting young adults, with most people with MS diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 40. The unpredictable effects of the often disabling disease last the rest of an afflicted person’s life.
So the task at hand is to advance research efforts and find a cure, and that is the purpose behind today’s 2016 Prince George Scotiabank MS Walk at Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park. The people taking part in the walk have collected pledges which go to related projects, assistance and workshops in Prince George as well as research to find a cure for MS. The walk route covers 2.25 km, although anyone wanting to can complete the course twice.
Walk/fundraising co-ordinator with the Prince George MS branch, Penny Brown, says some participants have registered in advance and you can also do so online at www.mswalk.ca or at the park. “Sunday, registration starts at 11 am at the Kiwanis Bowl Bandshell. The walk will start at approximately noon. We’ll have a couple of guest speakers and some warm-up exercises and then everyone will have their walk.”
Brown says following the walk “we’ll have lunch in the park along with refreshments and music. We’ve got a face painter, the Selfie booth, team photos going on and all kinds of family-friendly, fun activities.”
She says “MS is actually known now as Canada’s disease. There are more people in Canada with MS than anywhere in the world” although there has been no determination of why that is or why women are more likely to develop the disease than men.
Brown, herself afflicted with multiple sclerosis, says the walk is a go no matter what the weather. “Rain or shine we’re there. We don’t care if it’s hot, as long as it’s not raining. As long as we can get all the tents up, get everything done and then get it all down before everything gets wet we’ll be fine.”