Last year, Covid-19 forced the MS Society to quickly pivot their annual fundraising walk to a “virtual” event. The walk will be conducted virtually again this year, with the benefit of a year’s preparation.
“The MS Walk will be a nationwide event encouraging participants and members of their households to move forward together in their own unique way,” said Brenda Rosychuk, manager of the MS Society’s Lakeland office in St. Paul.
The official walk day is May 30.
“We’re really encouraging people to take part throughout the month of May. If they can’t walk on the actual walk date, we’re encouraging people to walk when they can,” Rosychuk said.
“And on the 30th we’re going to be having a liv- streamed rally, which is going to feature members of our MS community. It will be on Facebook and it’s going to be live-streamed on our web page as well.”
The pre-Covid MS Walks in St. Paul were an important fundraiser for the organization, and a great opportunity for the community to gather together. While large gatherings are on hold for now, the MS Society is counting on the spirit of community to keep up the positive energy.
Funds raised through the walk will go to research, advocacy, and services for people with MS.
Rosychuk says the society has expanded its online offerings through the pandemic, and as a result it has been able to provide some of its services to more people than ever.
“Access to services has probably increased for some who, for mobility reasons, weren’t able to make it into a support group or attend a Connect conference,” she said.
Participation in the November 2020 MS Connect conference, held online, was quadruple the attendance of an in-person conference. “It’s been a huge success,” Rosychuk said.
Virtual and online services have “opened the doors for a lot of things,” she said. “Nothing beats face-to-face interaction and a face-to-face connection. But it’s something that we are still able to offer, and we’re very proud of that.”
Canada has one of the highest rates of multiple sclerosis (MS) in the world. Most people are diagnosed with MS between the ages of 20 and 49 and the effects of the disease will last for the rest of their lives.
MS is a chronic autoimmune disease of the central nervous system, and can affect vision, memory, balance, and mobility. The severity and duration of illness and disability can vary and are often followed by periods of wellness. It can also be progressive.
MS is unpredictable and may cause extreme fatigue, lack of coordination, weakness, tingling, impaired sensation, vision problems, bladder problems, cognitive impairment, and mood changes. Its effects can be physical, emotional, and financial.
There is no cure, but researchers are learning more about what causes MS and are homing in on ways to prevent it.
The Lakeland office is well on its way to its goal of raising $38,000 through the walk, and Rosychuk says there’s still time for individuals or teams to
enter and help reach the objective. “If you go to mswalk.ca, you can find a location in your area and register and participate and help create awareness,” she said.