Sitka will join the party when it hosts its first Walk MS event at 9:30 a.m. (registration at 9 a.m.) on Saturday, May 30, at Sawmill Cove Industrial Park. This is the 25th anniversary of Walk MS, a national series of walks to raise money for programs and services, research, treatment and awareness of multiple sclerosis.
Walk MS Sitka will feature a 1.5-mile walk along the new coastal multi-use path from Sawmill Cove Industrial Park to Whale Park. Transportation will be available to take people back to the walk’s start line, or people can walk back to Sawmill Cove Industrial Park.
“Many of us have friends or family who are affected by multiple sclerosis,” Walk MS Sitka local coordinator Patricia Atkinson said. “Walk MS is a national event, held in many cities around the country and in Alaska. A small group of people in Sitka decided to create a fun local opportunity to raise awareness and raise funds to support people living with MS here in Sitka. Walk MS uses the color orange as a theme, and people are encouraged to make costumes or just enjoy the beautiful walk along our Sitka shoreline.”
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, unpredictable disease of the central nervous system, which is made up of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. It is thought to be an immune-mediated disorder, in which the immune system incorrectly attacks healthy tissue in the central nervous system. MS can cause many symptoms, including blurred vision, loss of balance, poor coordination, slurred speech, tremors, numbness, extreme fatigue, problems with memory and concentration, paralysis, and blindness, and more. These problems may come and go or persist and worsen over time. Most people are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, although individuals as young as 2 and as old as 75 have developed it.
To register online, go to http://www.walkms.org, find the Ketchikan AK page (zip code 99901), and register as a team or an individual (please make sure you put Sitka in the team title when you register). People also can register onsite at the Sawmill Cove Industrial Park. If you can’t make the actual walk, you still can go online and pledge your financial support. All money raised in Alaska stays in Alaska.
“We started organizing too late to get our own page, so we have to use Ketchikan’s this year. Next year, we’ll have our own,” Atkinson said. “Rain or shine, show your support for people living with MS and join us!”
For more information, contact Patricia Atkinson in Sitka at (907) 317-0619 or contact National MS Society Community Engagement Manager Jessica Lavoie at (907) 331-0179 or Jessica.Lavoie@nmss.org. You also can like the Walk MS Sitka page on Facebook to get updates.