© Jason Kerr
A group of approximately 50 walkers turned out for Sunday's Saskatchewan Blue Cross MS Walk.
More than 50 walkers came out to enjoy the sunshine and raise money for a good cause at Swift Current’s 22nd annual MS Walk on Sunday.
The walk raised money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, and from all appearances, it was a successful event.
“Everyone was very excited and very happy, and we did raise a lot of money,” said the society’s fundraising coordinator, Sierra Thompson. “I think it was a great turnout and a beautiful day.”
According to Stats Canada, more than 90,000 Canadians have Multiples Sclerosis, with an average of three new cases being diagnosed each day. Symptoms of the disease are wide ranging, including dizziness, depression, numbness, tingling, spasms and physical weakness. At this point there is no known cure.
“It’s a very complicated disease,” Thompson explains. “There are a lot of different stages, but with all the support we receive, we are going to (put) an end to it.”
Many of the participants shared that optimistic outlook, although there was a bit of caution.
“We’re desperate to find a cure,” 21 year MS Walk veteran Sonja Fortney said. “Since we made the MS Society, we’ve put a lot of money into research and we’re very close to finding a cure, and when we do, other diseases will topple like dominoes.”
Fortney, like her father before her, has MS. She participates in the walk with her electric wheelchair, and said even without the money, it’s still good to get some moral support.
“It feels wonderful. It feels like people care,” she said. “You see the signs of the little guys that say ‘I’m walking for my mom’ or ‘I’m walking for my dad’ and you know how devastating that can be for them. It’s just so helpful to see that so many people care and are anxious to find a cure.”
Very few of the walkers have MS, so most are there with signs pinned to their chest and back, which show who they’re walking for. Most of them, however, have seen how the disease affects others, and that’s why they’re here.
“I have a brother-in-law that has MS,” participant Lorna Spencer said. “I just saw how it affected his life and his family.”
Like Fortney, Spencer has been coming out for the walk almost since it started, and she too harbours some hope for a future without the disease.
“Every year you think, well, maybe this will be the year that they come up with the cure,” she said.
Swift Current’s MS Walk is just one 14 walks in the province. The fundraiser traditionally takes place in May as part of MS Month. So far the City of Swift Current has raised $11,600 for the Society. Approximately 3,500 people are reported to suffer from MS in Saskatchewan.