The Second Annual Hillsville Walk MS hosted by The Twin County MS Support Group raised more than $7,000 Sunday.
It was held at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1115 back lot. Participants viewed their efforts as another step towards a cure for a disease victims and their families live with (and in spite of) daily.
According to Walk Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Director of Development Clare Lorio, more than 100 persons participated in the event, matching last year’s turnout. She explained early on MS support groups nationally realized the disease affects every member of the family, and adjusted their efforts to broad based support in addition to raising money for support. Lorio works with the Virginia-West Virginia Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Association.
Local organizers Karen Walker and Regina Dalton, who both have MS, said the disease has a wide range of effects on those who have it. They said those with MS often keep this to themselves because they don’t want to be pitied. Multiple Sclerosis involves an abnormal response of the body’s immune system, directed against the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord and optic nerves.)
Dalton and Walker noted that strides in research have helped develop better forms of treatment and earlier detection. (Treatment used to primarily consist of painful shots which could be only administered by a physician. Better treatments with less side effects followed with an oral pill now being available as well as generic medicines.) Dalton said while these improvements give those living with MS hope, treatment is still expensive.
“It’s (MS) an awful thing. Many don’t want others to know they have it,” said Lorio. “With MS, people don’t understand what it is. It isn’t a death sentence although the complications can be severe.”
Walker said at first she was “stand-offish” about her MS. She emphasized once she came to accept she had the disease she than began to learn to take life one day at a time and enjoy that.
“I’ve got it but it doesn’t have me,” said Walker. “It can set me back but I don’t let it get me down. I can be strong another day because I’m hopeful they will eventually find a cure.”
Dalton said the local support chapter meets the second Tuesday of each month at the Hillsville Public Library at 7 p.m. Persons may obtain more information about MS at http://www.nationalmssociety.org/Chapters/VAR.
Keisha Dalton, daughter of Hillsville Councilman Bill Tate and his wife, Mabel, was diagnosed 12 years ago with MS. She recalled how the first treatments for excruciating pain in her muscles were accompanied by welts and flu-like symptoms which persist for five days. The shots had to be given daily in a physicians office. Later, medication improved and the shots could be self-injected by patients. Dalton has of late been using an oral medication which has had no side effects for her.
She said that while the severity of the disease and the reactions to medications varies widely among those with MS, one constant is depression. Many of those living with it have their worst relapses in the winter when less sunlight (and the accompanying vitamin D) hit them especially hard. Early on, Dalton had opted for no treatment because of time lost from her family as she recovered from the side effects.
“I’m hopeful if they don’t find a cure in my lifetime, they find one later for those who get it,” said Dalton. “MS is one thing you don’t understand until you have it. As much as people say they know how we feel and they understand, they don’t.”
David Broyles may be reached at 276-779-4013 or on Twitter@CarrollNewsDave.