Prince George MS Walk Raises Over $20k
Prince George, B.C. – Canada has the highest incidence of Multiple Sclerosis of any country on earth and the reasons for that are not known. And that is why people afflicted with the disease, along with family and friends and other supporters gather each year for the MS Walk, sponsored by Scotiabank.
This year the walk of 2.25 km, at Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park, was taken by 124 participants who raised more than $20,000 for research through pledges, with more money still to come in.
If you’ve attended even one of the MS Walks here you’ve no doubt noticed the large group wearing the dark blue T-shirts with “F~MS” on the front. It’s an easily understood message, but what’s behind it?
“Actually we became involved because we have a family member that was impacted with MS,” says Alison Porter, chair of the Prince George chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society. “It was me, I was diagnosed with MS in 2010 and since then we’ve gotten involved with the society, trying to find out what kind of support we can access and in doing so got involved with the walk and further developed Team F*$%…MS.”
She says that blunt team name was selected “just because it’s not a great disease, and it takes a real toll not only on the person who is diagnosed but on their families and support. It takes a community to support people with this disease because of the ebbs and flows of what you can experience. Some days are good days and some are bad, and we always like to say that this is a good day no matter how you’re feeling because it’s a fun day to get all our family out together.”
Alison says “we have about 35 members on our team that come every year, which is fantastic.” They include family and friends, “mostly family.”
The team has started using online resources in their fundraising. She says “you can do a little blurb for your team so we’ve done a little bit of a tracking, almost like a blog, through the MS Walk site. So I get to say how the year was, some of the challenges and ups and downs, and it’s generated a lot of support, financially and through awareness. I always say our time is not only about raising financial contributions but also about raising awareness.”
“We do that just by having such a big presence and our shirts kind of gather the attention. Because its two-fold, right? We need the dollars to support the society and the research and be able to support equipment purchases for people but we also want to bring more attention to this disease.”
“MS is the fastest-growing disease in Canada. They say that there is up to three Canadians diagnosed every day. We’re over a hundred thousand people in Canada with MS now and the highest (total) in the world. That’s significant.”
Despite the fact the reasons for the high incidence in Canada are not known Alison says “but they’re getting closer. Every year they’re starting to narrow down some of those genetic factors that might be associated with it and it’s less about just dealing with symptoms and finding a cure, which is a real shift for the society because really it’s only been front and centre for the last twenty years. So it’s not a new disease, but it’s a new focus.”
She adds “research and medicine have come to a place where diagnoses are a lot more frequent so it’s easier to do.”
The F~MS team raised over $5,000 in pledges for this year’s walk.
Anyone interested in donating to the fight against MS can go to www.mswalks.ca and if you have an interest in donating to a specific team you can locate the team through the search function or locate an individual, because every member of a team is registered on the site.