More than 500 people turn out for annual MS Walk

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Photo by SUBMITTED

Team Mackenzie before Saturday's MS Walk in Eau Claire.

Story by Symone Foster, Freelancer

Nearly 600 people are registered for the Walk MS fundraiser that the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Wisconsin Chapter is holding from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at Memorial High School in Eau Claire.

This event is held each year in different cities around the state, to raise awareness, raise money to fund research, and provide a support service for those living in Wisconsin with the disease. Last year they raised roughly $58,000 in donations. This year’s event is set to have 590 walkers and an expected $60,000 in donations.

Brittany Franson, a second-year participant of Walk MS Eau Claire, said that it’s important for her to be a part of the walk because the disease afflicts her younger sister, Mackenzie.

Mackenzie Franson, 21, was diagnosed a year and a half ago, after having episodes of passing out. She was just 12 years old when it started, but it wasn’t until she was 19 that doctors found the lesions on her brain. Franson said the medicine has been helping her sister tremendously, but she hates giving herself the shots.

With the help of their neurologist and Walk MS, Franson said, it really helped her family understand MS and its effects. She said Walk MS has become their new family tradition.

“This walk is just important as Easter or Christmas.” Franson said.

Franson and her “Team Mackenzie” are one of the top teams in Walk MS Eau Claire for raising donations. Their team goals are to gain more participants, to be the biggest team walking and to claim the title of being “the” top team. In process of achieving these goals, Franson said the main goal of Walk MS is to give to those affected and to fund research aimed at finding a cure.

MS is a disease that affects the central nervous system with symptoms that cannot be predicted and can differ from person to person. Some may experience vision problems, restlessness, numbness or even paralysis. MS is not fatal, but there is no known cure for it today. However,
there have been advancements in understanding MS and the medications that will help those living with MS.

The National MS Society reports that there are more than 2.3 million people affected with MS worldwide. By the rules of the Center of Disease Control, physicians are not required to report new cases, so there can only be an estimate of the number of people that are affected in the United States.

Laurie Anderson, one of Walk MS Eau Claire coordinators, who now walks with a cane, was also diagnosed with MS when she was just 20 years old but continues to live a normal life and has two children. Her sister is in the early stages of MS, too.

“I didn’t let it stop me.” Anderson said. “Anybody can tell you I’m optimistic.”

People seeking more information about Walk MS held on Saturday, whether to get involved or to donate, can contact 855-372-1331 or go to the website at http://www.nationalmssociety.org/Chapters/WIG.