By Sarah Meyer: Freedom New Mexico
The second annual fundraiser for multiple sclerosis will be held Saturday at Clovis Community College.
Proceeds will help with educational programs, financial support for patients with MS and research, said April Brownlee, walk coordinator for the Panhandle Division of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
She said more than 80 people in eastern New Mexico have MS, a disease of the spinal cord and central nervous system.
Local walk organizer Mary McWilliams said she got involved because her sister has MS.
“I was kind of shocked at the number of people here who are diagnosed with MS and how little awareness there is,” she said. “They’re very strong people. I want to help as much as I can.”
Effects of the disease range from numbness to paralysis and blindness, and vary from person to person and day to day, she said. The effects can be permanent or temporary.
“One of the biggest problems is that it’s unpredictable,” Brownlee said.
Treatment involves disease-modifying therapies through shots or intravenously, which can slow the progress of the disease, but at a cost of $2,500 or more per month, Brownlee said.
“People who have MS are often disabled and unable to work,” she said, adding that it can take four or five years to receive Social Security disability benefits. “That’s why they need help,” she said.
McWilliams said this year’s fundraising goal is $20,000. She works at Southwest Cheese, who is sponsoring the event. The company and employees already have raised $9,000, she said earlier this month, and a team of 16 people have signed up to participate in the walk.
Those interested in participating can register as an individual or a team. Participants collect pledges or donations, no matter how small, Brownlee said.