Community to walk, raise funds for multiple sclerosis

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More than 20,000 Texans are affected by multiple sclerosis, according to the National MS Society.

According to the multiple sclerosis Web site, www.nationalmssociety.org, “multiple sclerosis (or MS) is a chronic, often disabling disease, that attacks the central nervous system (CNS), which is made up of the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves.”

Symptoms vary based on severity. Mild cases commonly cause tingling and numbness in the limbs. More severe cases can lead to blindness or paralysis.

“It is a very unpredictable disease. You never know what to expect,” said Holli Benge, BSN, RN, MS Walk Steering Committee Chair, and Vocational Nurse Instructor at TJC-Lindale.

Benge was diagnosed with MS in 2003 and is now orchestrating and planning the walk in Tyler. She helps in getting individuals and businesses involved.

“As much of TJC as I can, I get out there,” Benge said. “The teachers have been wonderful about getting the word out.”

The Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) students of TJC will walk in Walk MS for the fourth year in a row.

Early registration is available online. Check-in and day-of-event registration will begin at 8 a.m., Oct. 31, at Bergfeld Park.

The 1 mile or 5K walk, run, or skate starts at 9 a.m.

Friends, family and pets are all welcome. During the fundraiser there will be entertainment, music, T-shirts, goody bags and free food catered by Texas Roadhouse.

There is no cost to register for the Walk, and there is no minimum pledge, but the average participant raises $225. Benge said that the money raised goes to the corporate office and then out to the different organizations and support groups.

“Multiple sclerosis affects people in many ways, emotionally and physically. It causes many limitations if not treated properly,” said Dr. Jerry Bettinger, a neurologist with Northeast Texas Neurology. It gives a “sense of accomplishment to complete the walk itself.”

The walk “gives people a chance to get together and show support,” said Lee Kilborn, MS Community Volunteer Manager.

The fundraiser shows people are interested in expanding successful research. Benge said simply knowing that people are there for support is one of the biggest benefits of the fundraiser.

“In terms of seeing support from the general public, [the walk] gives a sense of belonging,” Bettinger said.

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