MS walk an example of community spirit

Two walkers take part in the 2018 MS Walk in Prince Albert. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

Rain or shine, residents from across Prince Albert will be out walking this weekend in support of those who live with Multiple Sclerosis.

Last year, the annual Saskatchewan Blue Cross MS Walk raised nearly $14,000 for patient programs and services, advocacy work, and research. Organizers say they’re hoping for a similar number again in 2018.

“We’re all very excited,” Prince Albert walk coordinator Kat Matlock said. “I know the event weekend is always busy, but it’s always exciting.”

This will be Matlock’s second year organizing MS walks. She said it’s encouraging to see so many people come out and support an important cause, especially since MS is so prevalent.

According to the MS Society of Canada, an estimated 1 in 340 Canadians live with the disease. That’s one of the highest rates in the world.

“It’s important for us to all come together as a community and just work towards one common goal,” she explained. “The funds raised, they do go to support world class MS research, so of which is happening right here in Saskatchewan. They also go to support local programs and services, so you are helping someone who lives with or is affected by MS just by participating.”

Fundraising is the primary goal, but it’s not the only one. Matlock said they also want to make people living with MS aware of just how many resources are at their disposal, and where they can find them.

That’s something that hasn’t always been easy in the past, and Matlock said it’s still a challenge in the present.

“A lot of people just don’t know where to go for certain resources and services that they can access,” she explained. “That’s kind of why we’re here too, so that we can direct people to where they need to go and help them figure out the best way to help them deal with their diagnosis.”

The Prince Albert walk will be one of nine walks taking place across the province. Last year those nice walks drew more than 1,500 participants.

For people living with MS, like 2019 Saskatchewan Blue Cross MS Walk ambassador Joni Straker, it’s comforting to see so many people show up and offer their support.

“I was hesitant to sign up for the MS walk last year since I was diagnosed with MS in 2017, but I’m so glad I did,” Straker said in a media release. “Watching my boys and my husband put on their signs of who they walked for, ‘Mom and ‘Wife,’ brought tears to my eyes. I didn’t feel strong enough to wear my own MS sign last year, but this year I do.”

Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic disease that affects the brain, spinal chord and optic nerve. It is one of the most common neurological diseases affecting young adults in Canada.

The 2019 Saskatchewan Blue Cross MS Walk begins at 1 p.m. at the Prince Albert Elks Club on Sunday, May 26. Participants can register online at www.mswalks.ca, or on the day of the walk.