Participants in the 10-kilometre portion of the MS Walk were the first to leave Lakeland College Gym Saturday morning. – Catherine Szabo Photos
By Catherine Szabo
The spring snowfall this weekend wasn’t going to deter Gail Taylor.
A volunteer and participant in the Enerflex MS Walk, Taylor was one of the first people at Lakeland College Gym Saturday morning, and she walked in waving an “End MS” flag.
“(Saturday) morning especially, I think the snow kind of had people down in the dumps a little bit and I thought nope, let’s get this thing going,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what the weather is, we’re here for a good cause.”
Due to a last-minute surge in registration, they had 409 walkers, for a total of 44 teams, said Johanna Green, executive and development director of the Lloydminster MS Society. A fundraising amount won’t be available until later this week, although Green noted things looked good, especially as some of the teams were raising the most they ever have. Funds will continue to come in throughout the month as well, she added.
The one change that they had to make the day of the event was condensing the 10-kilometre route – instead of doing a loop through the city, those who wanted to do 10 kilometres did the five-kilometre route twice through Bud Miller All-Seasons Park. That way, they didn’t have to worry about whether city routes were cleared or not, Green said.
“It’s always inspiring to see people come out for the cause, but on a day especially like this, where the weather hasn’t really been in our favour, it’s so amazing to see people come out in force and in so many, it really echoes the spirit of people with MS,” she said.
“No matter whether you have a down day, people somehow pick themselves up and persevere.”
Part of the opening ceremonies included a slideshow titled “I Believe,” referencing the hope for a cure. Funds raised will go towards research, Green said, but the monies also support initiatives in the community for those with multiple sclerosis.
Taylor, who became involved in the event after being diagnosed with MS in 2007, estimated she and her husband raised about $28,000 last year. She’s hoping to be close to $30,000 this year, she said.
Having local programs offered is really important, she added.
“It’s some place to go,” Taylor said. “You can go talk to them, we have yoga, we have aqua swim, we have sandwiches and talk, we get together for a lunch and we bring people in to talk to us, optometrists and masseuses, just to talk to us.
“Because some of us don’t know what we should be doing, and most of us, our neurologists are all in Edmonton or Saskatoon, so it’s nice to have that local connection, and talk to other people, because everybody’s symptoms are different.”
Mayor Jeff Mulligan, Vermilion-Lloydminster MLA Richard Starke and Vegreville-Wainwright MP Leon Benoit also made comments during the opening ceremonies, including remarks by Benoit about the legislation he is working on concerning CCSVI treatment.
During his research to understand the treatment – he has no close connections to the disease, he said, but is impressed with the attitudes of those who are affected – he said it’s the unknown parts of multiple sclerosis that really stand out to him.
“How little anybody really knows about what causes MS, or even what the condition is, because it’s so many different things,” he said. “It’s so many different types, and even that hasn’t been clearly defined. So the lack of knowledge has really amazed me, the lack of effective treatment for some stages, but for some stages of MS, there are quite effective treatments.
“But the lack of treatment for certain types of MS was a surprise, and that’s why, for people who have no effective treatment, that’s why getting this treatment for CCSVI is so important.”
The walkers doing the one- and five-kilometre walks left about 40 minutes after the 10-kilometre participants, giving Green a couple minutes to slow down after the bustle of getting everything organized. Her first walk after returning to the Border City earlier this year, Green said it feels good.
“It feels like home,” she said. “I’ve missed this event, and more than anything, I’ve missed the people. This is such a special core of people, and I’m motivated and inspired by them every day. So I just feel honoured and privileged to be back, serving the cause and working with such tremendous people, staff and volunteers, and our great board of directors.”