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When you ‘Walk MS,’ Every Step is Precious 

SIMSBURY, Conn. — When Kathy Ryan walks, she has to make every step count.

“I tell people, imagine trying to walk with two cement blocks tied to the back of your heels. That’s what it’s like living every day with multiple sclerosis,” said Ryan.

Ryan is one of the 6,000 Connecticut residents battling the effects of multiple sclerosis (MS) daily. Because Ryan understands you can’t take movement for granted, she created a team to step out in the annual Travelers Walk MS event. In fact, the Simsbury, Conn., resident even gave her Walk MS team a rather tongue-in-cheek name: Peg Leg Petes.

In a show of support, each year hundreds of loved ones, friends, neighbors and co-workers throughout Simsbury and surrounding communities — including Avon and Farmington — lace up and step out in solidarity for a single cause: to end the devastating effects of MS.

Westminster School will, for a seventh year, host the Travelers Walk MS, Sunday, May 4. Check-in and registration begin at 8 a.m., and participants step out at 9 a.m. Lunch is provided compliments of Subway and Coca-Cola.

Last year 811 Simsbury participants helped raise $71,670 toward the 2007 $1.1 million goal.

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease affecting the central nervous system. The cause is unknown and, as a result, there currently is no cure. Symptoms can include, among other things, numbness and tingling in the limbs, difficulties with vision and speech, stiffness and, in some severe cases, total paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot be predicted. More than 1,400 individuals in Hartford County, of which 35 reside in Simsbury, live with the baffling and unpredictable effects of multiple sclerosis. More than 400,000 Americans nationwide are diagnosed with MS.

“It is so important to raise awareness,” Ryan said recently. “Fundraisers, like the Travelers Walk MS, are a great way for people to learn more about the disease while raising funds for programs and to find a cure.”

The National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter expects the 2008 Travelers Walk MS to raise more than $1.5 million. Additional partners stepping out in support include Acorda and Serono. For more information or to register, please call (860) 714-WALK. To learn more, listen to 96.5 TIC, 95.9 The FOX and 97.7 WCTY Country favorites or watch WTNH News Channel 8 and My TV 9.


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