Local MS Society chapter seeking more support for fundraisers

The local chapter of the MS Society is calling on the community to lend a helping hand with several spring fundraisers. Numbers of signed-up participants are down from last year.

“A lot of people are feeling economic strain, and that makes it all the more tricky,” said Bre Fitzpatrick, development coordinator for the local Chapter of the MS Society.

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 the disease. 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.

But to date this year, only 441 people have signed up for the walk. That is down by 16% compared to last year at this point in time. Fund-wise, at this point the walk has raised $37,744. “It’s a far stretch from the $187,000 we raised last year,” said Fitzpatrick.

Also coming up is 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.

“So far, we’re down 41 per cent in terms of participation compared to last year at this point, and down 17 per cent in funds compared to last year as well,” she said.

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

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.

“There are more than 11,000 Albertans that have MS,” said Fitzpatrick. “There are of course people struggling with symptoms that don’t even know they have the illness.”

The impact of MS can be far-reaching as well.

“Each person that is diagnosed, four or five people in their network of family and friends can be affected as well. There is quite a network of people who are touched by it.”

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.

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