By JEFF MEYERS and ANDREA VAN VALKENBURG Press-Republican
---- — PLATTSBURGH — Tina Arena knows firsthand how devastating multiple sclerosis can be.
Her mother, Pamela LaPlante, suffers from the chronic disease that targets the central nervous system, and she struggles with the disabling physical affects every day.
“It’s a tough thing,” Arena said.
“Some days she just doesn’t have the energy and is in a lot of pain. Some days are good, and some days really aren’t so good.”
LaPlante was diagnosed with MS in 2002 but physicians believe it had been present for more than two decades before it was finally identified.
Arena, from Clintonville, will be among those gathering at the U.S Oval on Sunday to support research and community programs to assist people living with multiple sclerosis.
The second-annual Walk MS is set for 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., with opening ceremonies set for 9:55 a.m.
“Last year was our inaugural event in Plattsburgh, and it went very well,” said Stephanie Bradshaw, director of development for the Upstate New York Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
“We’re really excited about continuing that success this year.”
In 2012, 380 walkers participated in the walk, and they helped raise $49,000.
“Our goal (in 2012) was to raise $29,000,” Bradshaw said of the tremendous support that helped exceed the goal by $20,000. “This year, we’re hoping to raise $53,000.”
Funds raised by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society are used for two main purposes: to support MS research and to provide local programs for people with the disease and their families.
“We spend millions and millions of dollars on research, but a portion of the money raised always stays in the community,” Bradshaw noted.
For instance, a recent educational program was offered in Lake George to update people living with multiple sclerosis on current medical breakthroughs and what may be on the horizon in treatment of the disease, she explained.
“We’re spending more money on research now than ever before,” she said.
“It is an exciting time (for MS research).”
HOPE FOR CURE
A recently approved oral medication is the first drug of its type, Bradshaw said. Traditionally, MS treatments involve medications that are injected with syringes.
The walk brings in donations through sponsorship, she said. Walkers collect pledges beforehand, and some also contribute themselves.
“Every little bit helps,” Arena said of Sunday’s fundraiser. “The more people know about (MS), the more people will get involved.”
Arena said she and her mother have confidence that research will provide improved treatments and, someday, a cure for MS.
“They’re getting closer to bigger things,” she said. “With more funding, we could see big improvements.”
The Upstate New York chapter has 203 registered people with multiple sclerosis living in Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties. Events like Sunday’s walk also help new people connect with the Multiple Sclerosis Society, Bradshaw explained.
The regional chapter covers 50 counties in northeastern New York and provides services for 12,000 registered clients.
“The Plattsburgh walk is important for us because we don’t have a big presence in that area,” Bradshaw said. “The closest office is in Albany, so we wanted to institute an event (in the Plattsburgh area) to help people rally together (in support of MS research and education).”
Email Jeff Meyers:firstname.lastname@example.org
TAKE THE WALK
Walk MS 2013 is set for Sunday at the U.S. Oval in Plattsburgh. Registration is at 9 a.m. with opening ceremonies set for 9:55 a.m.
A 1-mile and 5K walk are scheduled.
Participants can also register in advance at www.nationalmssociety.org and also find information on the latest development in research.
For more information, visit the Upstate Chapter website at www.msupstateny.org, call (800) 344-4867 or email email@example.com.