NARRAGANSETT—The stories of how walkers and bikers have come to the MS Society’s 23rd annual Walk MS are varied, but the intent remains steadfast: to raise funds and public awareness for research which will someday lead to a cure for multiple sclerosis.
“This is a great experience, from start to finish,” said Narragansett resident Chuck Carberry. “Last year, we did the walk and I have been training for this year’s 150 mile bike race with my wife. It is a great opportunity.”
The event began this past Sunday morning, April 15, and participants walked along either a 6.2-mile or 3-mile course. Bicyclists had the opportunity to cycle along a 25-mile course along the Narragansett coastline. The MS Society held similar biking and walking events in Providence and Bristol, as well as Narragansett.
Chuck Carberry and his wife, Sherry, who has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, have experienced first-hand the impact of multiple sclerosis on their family, who has participated in Walk MS for the past four years. Sherry father, Frank, has just recently been declared cancer-free, and to walk in the event, like many others, has a personal connection beyond her individual person.
“This year, my father will be biking with us for the first time,” said Sherry. “It will be special because the race is on Father’s Day, and to do this for the MS Society and with my dad is special.”
“We need to raise money,” she added. “[The MS Society] has been a great source of help for me, and it is great to help them to do research and give back so that they might find a cure.”
More 400,000 people in the United States and 2.1 million worldwide suffer from MS. The disease is referred to as an ‘autoimmune’ disorder and causes a person’s immune system to attack healthy tissue. Symptoms and their severity vary among those who suffer from MS, from extreme fatigue to paralysis.
Rhonda O’Donnell, a former nurse who participated as a walker in 1999, is now fighting through her multiple sclerosis, and each year is a chance to get someone closer to a life without the cancer. She founded her team, Rhonda’s Road Runners, for the Walk MS event, and has participated for the last 15 years.
“We started with seven people, but now I am up to 40 and have raised over $6,000 for this year,” said Rhonda. “We are doing very well, and will have a cookout in the summer to thank everyone who has supported us.”
No cure has been found for multiple sclerosis, yet with research and events such as ‘Walk MS’ that raise public awareness, many hope that more people will identify with the issues surrounding MS and work towards a viable solution.
“We are raising money for research, not just for myself, and I always say that if you can give $1, give it, or if it is more, then give that too, because it is all appreciated,” said Rhonda. “I continue marching on, and I always tell people not to get scared because multiple sclerosis is a very variable disease. We rely on research, and with events raising money like this, maybe we can find a cure.”
For more information about donating to the MS Society and volunteer opportunities, visit www.nationalmssociety.org/chapters/RIR .