GODFREY — The Gateway Chapter of the MS Society celebrates the last walk of the season in May, and chairperson Lisa Hemphill wants to see the community attend.
“It will be a festival-like atmosphere,” Hemphill said. “There (will be) a one- to three-mile walk, refreshments, raffles and prize wheels for the kids, along with a DJ.”
This year’s Riverbend Godfrey MS Walk will be at Glazebrook Park on Saturday, May 9. Registration is at 9:30 a.m., with the walk to follow at 10:30 a.m.
Multiple sclerosis, a disabling disease that disrupts the central nervous system, continues to evade a cure and remains a challenge for millions of people worldwide.
“Most people haven’t heard of MS and do not know much about it,” Hemphill said.
The disease interrupts the brain’s flow of information. Often, people with MS have no physical symptoms or problems but may still have struggles. Some scientists believe MS is an autoimmune disease, but no specific target of the attack has been identified. Because of this, MS is considered an immune-mediated disease.
“Typical problems for MS sufferers can include tingling, numbness and eye problems,” says Lisa’s husband, David, who has suffered with the disease for 10 years. While he has memory problems, he leads a normal life.
“Think of an extension cord that has the insulating cover removed,” Hemphill said. “The insulating cover is sheathing the inner wires from being exposed. Once the wires are exposed in the extension cord, it may not work properly. You can wrap electrical tape around it, which helps for a little while, but then it may stop working again. This is similar to how MS attacks the body, with the wires of the extension cord being a person’s nerves.”
The MS Society, Gateway Chapter, was established in 1955 as part of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. The chapter offers services and programs to approximately 35,000 people in 90 counties affected by the disease.
The chapter, as with most MS groups nationwide, relies heavily on fundraisers and support from local people and organizations such as ConocoPhillips, Argosy and Dr. Kevin Wright with Pearle Vision.
“Gateway puts more money into research and programs than for itself,” Hemphill said. “Finding a cure and helping those with the disease are more important than publicity.”
An MS support group meets every third Tuesday of the month at the United Presbyterian Church in Wood River. Future plans include a Jerseyville-based support group; for information on that group, contact Stacy Cameron, Gateway Chapter office, at (314) 446-4184.
There is still time to register for Saturday’s walk and there are no fees for registration, although donations are always welcome. Dogs and puppies are welcome to attend the event with their masters, as Lisa and David will be bringing along their furry friend, Oliver.
For more information on the Gateway Chapter of the MS Society, the support group or Saturday’s walk, visit the website at www.gatewaymswalk.org or call (618) 593-7066.