By Brittney Coulter
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society will be hosting its annual Walk MS event at 9 a.m. Saturday.
The event has been held in the Cameron Park Zoo for more than 10 years, but this year the walk will begin in Heritage Square in downtown Waco.
“This is actually a brand new location for us this year at Heritage Square,” event director AnnaLeigh Kirk said. “We decided to kind of switch it up this year [and] try something new. We’re really excited.”
MS is a “disease of the central nervous system that affects 400,000 Americans and 2.5 million people worldwide.” The disease interrupts the flow of information from the brain to the body and causes paralysis, the website said.
The National MS Society “funds more MS research than any other private organization,” according to their website.
Through walks and other fundraising efforts the society has played a key role in the development of medications for those suffering from the disease.
“Eighteen years ago there were no drugs for anyone with MS. Now there are eight approved drugs,” Kirk said. “In not very long we’ve made tremendous progress.”
Humble sophomore Valonia Walker has made it her personal mission to help spread awareness about the disease. Her father, Truman Walker, was diagnosed with MS 15 years ago.
“I decided that it’s my job to be someone who can make others aware of this disease because a lot of people don’t know what MS is,” Walker said. “It affects so many different people, young and old.”
Walker created a team of nine people to participate in the event. In less than two weeks, her team, which she named “T’s Walkers” in honor of her father, has raised over $600 in donations for the cause. The team reached out to friends and family members through emails in hopes of meeting their fundraising goal.
“There was nothing coming in the first couple of days and then things started to pick up and donations started falling in,” Walker said.
Walker’s team is the fifth-highest fundraiser out of 48 total teams.
Teams and individual walkers can register for the event online until 8 a.m. today. Registration will also be held at the walk site at 8 a.m., an hour before the event starts.
The walk is five miles, but a one-mile option is also available to participants who would prefer a less-strenous route. For those who wish to help the cause but can’t make it to the walk this year, there are other ways to get involved.
“You can always go on our website and donate at www.walkmstexas.org,” Kirk said.
Both Walker and Kirk said they have high hopes that MS will be cured.
“We truly are making a difference dollar by dollar for the lives of those affected by MS,” Kirk said.