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Local MS walk gaining steam in inaugural year
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The McMinnville MS Walk, organized by River Park ICU nurse Heather George, will be held Saturday, Oct. 22 at the McMinnville Civic Center pavilion and trail. Registration will start at 9 a.m. and the walk will begin at 10:30 a.m.
George says there will be a number of fundraising events during the day.
“We’re going to start at the pavilion by the Jungle Jym,” George said. “That’s where all the activities are going to be located. We’re going to have an auction, games for children, and we’re going to give out tickets for a $1 donation for a chance to win a quilt.”
The quilt has a very special meaning for those participating.
“People who have MS I gave them a quilt square and they decorated it, some of their family members too,” George said. “We put the quilt together and for a $1 donation you can have a chance to win the quilt. There will be a booth for that and the quilt will be given away that day.
“We’re going to have shirts for that day and if a person turns in $125 they will get an official walk shirt,” George said. “We have several sponsors and their names will be on the back of the shirt.”
George began working on the walk in February and so far volunteer teams have raised over $5,000 to fight multiple sclerosis, a debilitating autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord.
According to the PubMed Health website, MS affects women more than men. The disorder is most commonly diagnosed between ages 20 and 40, but can be seen at any age.
MS is caused by damage to the myelin sheath, the protective covering that surrounds nerve cells. When this nerve covering is damaged, nerve impulses are slowed down or stopped.
The nerve damage is caused by inflammation. Inflammation occurs when the body’s own immune cells attack the nervous system. Repeated episodes of inflammation can occur along any area of the brain, optic nerve, and spinal cord.
Researchers are not sure what triggers the inflammation. The most common theories point to a virus or genetic defect, or a combination of both. Geographic studies indicate there may be an environmental factor involved.
George was diagnosed with MS in July 2007 after she woke up one morning and found she was blind in one eye. She has been participating in walks since then, including events in Murfreesboro and Nashville, where she met WSMV-TV anchor Demetria Kalodimos, whose sister has MS.
“But we’ve never had a walk here in McMinnville,” George said. “And there are a lot of people here in McMinnville who have MS, and I just thought it would be good for us all to come together for the cause and raise awareness about MS. You know, you can go up to people and ask them what MS is and they have no idea. That’s really my goal for this year is to raise awareness.”
Those who would like to form teams and sign up for the walk can visit the website at MSmidsouth.org and navigate to the McMinnville walk. George says participation so far has been wonderful.
“We have, last time I checked, nine teams that have already signed up for the walk,” George said. “We have already turned in $5,000 to the MS society.”
George was busy yesterday at Hickory Creek Elementary where the school’s team, the HC Hawkwalkers, were holding a bake sale to raise funds to fight MS.
Anyone who is interested in getting involved, donating, volunteering, sponsoring, or forming a team can contact George at 473-7580 or 224-7997.