MS Society getting ready for biggest weekend of the year

May 4, 2017   ·   0 Comments

By Mike Pickford

The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada is ramping up for one of its biggest weekends of the year as dozens of communities across Ontario and parts of western Canada prepare to participate in the organization’s single largest annual fundraiser – and Orangeville is one of them.

With 135 communities in 12 of Canada’s 13 provinces and territories set to host walks throughout the month of May, the MS Society is looking forward to what it hopes will be its most successful year to date. Since its beginnings in Ontario in 1991, the event has raised hundreds of millions of dollars as researchers work towards finding a cure for the debilitating disease.

Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that attacks the central nervous system and interferes with signals the brain sends to the rest of the body. While it is most often diagnosed in young adults between the ages of 15 and 40, younger children and older adults can also be among its victims. According to the MS Society, 1 in 340 Canadians (100,000 people) currently live with MS.

There are two types of MS – relapsing-remitting and progressive – with the latter being the more serious. Scott McMillan, the MS Society’s Manager, Fund Development for Ontario and Nunavut, said symptoms of the disease can vary quite dramatically.

“Multiple Sclerosis is a very unpredictable disease in the way that every single person currently living with it will experience different symptoms at different levels of severity,” Mr. McMillan told the Citizen. “Some of the more common problems would include tingling and numbness, problems with your vision, impaired speech, loss of mobility, paralysis… It really varies depending on the individual.”

Mr. McMillan noted that Multiple Sclerosis is considered “Canada’s disease” with the country currently registering the highest rate of MS among residents in the world. As such, the organization feels it has a responsibility to the people of Canada to eventually find a cure.

“So far we have a number of treatments and drugs available that can help people living with MS deal with the symptoms, but we don’t have a cure at this point,” Mr. McMillan said. “Each and every year this fundraiser manages to raise millions of dollars, which goes directly towards finding that cure. Since this is Canada’s disease, we have a word-renowned research team working year round to try to establish a cure, so our message to Canadians is to get out there and support your fellow Canadians in an effort that is going to one day end MS.”

Ever since the turn of the new millennium, local residents have turned out in full force in support of the annual walk, and this year is no different. With it taking place at Montgomery Village Public School this Saturday, organizers are expecting to see more than 150 participants out for the event and hope to raise in the region of $45,000.

Speaking to the Citizen this week, Rebecca Scott Rawn says she’s excited to experience another MS Walk in Orangeville having only recently moved to the community in 2014.

“It’s been an interesting couple of years for me and MS Walks in town… While I fundraised for my first walk in Orangeville, I couldn’t actually participate as my husband and I had already planned and booked a trip overseas, so that was a bit of a shame. Then, last year, I walked while I was nine months pregnant and ended up going into labour immediately after finishing. That’s something we’ll never forget.”

Having been diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS in 2012, Ms. Scott Rawn says she has now learned to live with a disease she admits she knew nothing about upon initial diagnosis.

“I just remember the day my doctor called me and asked me to come in right away and to bring a friend,” Ms. Scott Rawn said. “I’d been having some stress at work and feeling some tingling in my left hand that continued for a little while. I eventually went and had an MRI done and was told I’d hear back in a few weeks… I had the MRI at midnight in Toronto and received the call from my doctor at 8 a.m. that morning.”

She continued, “My first thought was that I had a brain tumour. When I got to my doctor’s office I was immediately handed a box of kleenex, which wasn’t a good sign. When she told me I had MS I didn’t really know what to think. I went home, did a ton of research and here I am five years later, relatively healthy and with minimal relapses.”

Rebecca will once again be joined by her ‘Not MSing Around’ teammates this coming weekend as they hope to reclaim their Best Spirit Award from last year’s event. She’s hoping to raise at least $5,000 to keep up her streak of being able to donate at least that amount every year since she started walking in 2013.

“I’m really looking forward to the walk again this year. It’s the perfect opportunity to get out with your family and friends and meet people in your community,” Ms. Scott Rawn said. “I love it, I really, really do. There’s always such a great atmosphere the day of, especially here in Orangeville. Ever since we moved to this community, it’s really helped my stress levels and I’ve met some wonderful people through volunteering and helping to organize the event.”

She concluded, “Here’s hoping for another awesome, record breaking year.”

For more information on the MS Society of Canada, or to register for the upcoming MS Walk in Orangeville-Dufferin, visit Check in for the event will start at 8:30 a.m. at Montgomery Village Public School with the walk itself beginning at 9:30 a.m., rain or shine.

Readers Comments (0)

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.