Sitka will host its fifth Walk MS event on Saturday, May 4, but this year there will be some changes. This year there’s an earlier start to the event — 10 a.m. walk start (registration at 9:30 a.m.) — and the event starts and ends at the Crescent Harbor Shelter now instead of out by the industrial park. There also are some new partners helping host the event in Sitka.
This is the 29th 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 short course from Crescent Harbor Shelter along the Sitka Sea Walk to the Sitka Sound Science Center and back, and there’s a longer Stride 365 run/walk course that takes people from Crescent Harbor Shelter to the airport and back.
From left, Dillon Peavey, 9, Jaden Costelo 9, and Jaira Costelo, 8, lead the first Walk MS Sitka event Saturday morning, May 30, 2015. About 100 people participated in the walk from the Gary Paxton Industrial Park to Whale Park. Although donations were accepted, (2015 event) organizers Patricia Atkinson and Colleen Dahlquist said the event was held to raise awareness of the chronic disease that attacks the central nervous system. (Daily Sitka Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)
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 years old, although individuals as young as 2 and as old as 75 have developed it.
Participants can register as individuals or teams by going to the event’s Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/WalkMSSitka/. People also can register onsite at the Crescent Harbor Shelter. Participants can collect donations to help fight MS (those funds raised in Sitka stay in Alaska) by having people sponsor their teams or individual entries, but event organizers said it’s just as important to have people walk or run as it is to raise money.
To learn more about MS, go to http://www.nationalmssociety.org. To find other larger Walk MS events around the country, go to http://www.walkms.org. 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.
For more information, contact local coordinators Colleen Dahlquist at (907) 738-0477 or Heleena Van Veen at (907) 966-8915 in Sitka, or contact the National MS Society at (800) 344-4867. You also can like the Walk MS Sitka page on Facebook to get updates.
• Multiple Sclerosis 101 (facts about MS)