Organizers of the local Enerflex MS Walk have been concerned that the number of registered walkers for this year’s event will not meet projected targets.
“Right now our walk numbers are down compared to last year, which may affect our ability to offer MS services in our community,” said Ellen Geddes, Enerflex MS Walk coordinator for the MS Society’s Central Alberta Chapter.
The 2012 Enerflex MS Walk will be on May 27th at Kiwanis Picnic Shelter with the registration and breakfast at 8 a.m.
“We want to encourage people to register as soon as possible because the fundraising is, of course, the most essential part of the walk and the sooner you register the sooner you can get going with that part of it.”
In 2011, the event brought out 551 walkers who raised a total of $143,611. This year, the MS Society’s Central Alberta Chapter is hoping for 600 walkers and to raise $150,000.
Lorraine Evans-Cross, executive director of the Central Alberta Chapter, said funds collected from events such as the Enerflex MS Walk are essential in providing and maintaining services for local people living with MS, including their families.
“We want people to know that the need is very real and we would never want to be in a position where we have to downsize our programs locally because the revenue isn’t there,” said Evans-Cross, adding a big part of what they do is help subsidize the costs associated with keeping MS patients mobile. Often, they use wheelchairs and scooters, and make use of the handi-van or taxis to get around because of the debilitating nature of MS.
“For a person who might be newly diagnosed who has come from their neurologist and doesn’t know what to do next, we are their next stop and we’re here to support them and connect them with people living with MS so they don’t feel like they’re going through this alone.”
According to the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, MS is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. The disease attacks the protective myelin covering and at times the nerve fibres themselves.
MS can strike at any age, but is usually diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 40. Women are more than three times as likely to develop MS then men.
Canadians have one of the highest rates of multiple sclerosis in the world, and MS is the most common neurological disease affecting young adults in Canada. Every day, three more people in Canada are diagnosed with MS.
Symptoms can include vision disturbances, extreme fatigue, loss of balance, problems with coordination, pain, depression, stiffness of muscles, speech problems, bladder and bowel problems, short-term memory problems and even partial or complete paralysis.
Meanwhile, what’s raised at the walk that doesn’t stay in Central Alberta goes directly to MS research, said Evans-Cross, adding the past few years have brought about the potential for new treatments, including CCSVI or ‘Liberation Therapy.’
However, while some people are reporting positive results from the treatment, it isn’t a definitive cure, which is what the MS Society is targeting.
“We want people to know that while the liberation therapy certainly seems to provide some promising relief for some people, many of those people are still coming to the MS Society in need of programs and services to continue enhancing their quality of life.”
Geddes said the Enerflex MS Walk is near-and-dear to many people, especially in the Central Alberta area. Walkers can choose between 2, 7 and 8.5 km routes before heading back for lunch and entertainment.
“We are so indebted to our walkers who come out rain, snow or shine,” said Geddes adding the walk is a mix of emotions for everyone involved. “I think in a way it echoes how people handle MS and that they take it in stride and that’s a pretty moving thing in and of itself.”