Local MS Society chapter gearing up for spring fundraisers

Enerflex MS Walk and the RONA MS Bike Tour coming up

The local chapter of the MS Society has kicked off their 2011 fundraising season, and it all started with a hair-streaking event at Bower Mall last week.

Folks were invited to have red streaks put in their hair as a means of raising awareness about MS and to provoke discussion about the upcoming fundraising events slated for May and June.

“Streaking their hair red is a bold statement to grab attention and raise more awareness of MS and its terrible impact on people living right here in our Central Alberta community,” said Ellen Geddes, events coordinator for the local office.

“Red is a colour that signifies strong emotion. We are determined to end MS.”

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, the 21st annual Enerflex MS Walk, set for May 29, will be held at Bower Ponds.

People with MS and their family and friends will join together to raise funs and help educated the public about MS. This year’s fundraising goal is $200,000 with walkers raising money by securing pledges.

Last year, 8,100 walkers across Alberta raised $2.7 million. In Red Deer, despite chilly temperatures and snow, 650 participants raised more than $187,000.

“No matter what the weather, we will be there. Even if I have to wear snowshoes,” says Geddes.

The 17th annual RONA MS Bike Tour runs June 11-12. Both days start out from Red Deer College.

Last year, 157 cyclists in Central Alberta raised a whopping $135,489 – breaking all previous records. This year’s goal is to have 175 people sign up and raise $150,000.

Looking further down the road, the 12th annual MS 100 Holes of Golf runs at Wolf Creek Golf Resort on Sept. 12.

For more information about any of these events, check out www.mssociety.ca/centralalberta and follow the ‘Fundraising Events’ link.