then And noW:
twenty-five years ago, disease-modifying treatments for
multiple sclerosis did not exist, MrI scans had just been
recognized as a way to monitor disease activity and the
very first Walk Ms event took place in Minnesota.
that day in 1988, people who wanted to join the movement walked from downtown Minneapolis to
the state capitol in st. Paul. they raised $216,000 toward research and service programs for people with
Ms. And they began something that grew exponentially through the new millennium and beyond.
today, Walk Ms events raise $50 million a year to help people with Ms move forward with their lives
and end Ms forever, with more than 330,000 people participating in events held in every single state.
CoUrtesy of the MInnesotA ChAPter
Keep the movement growing. Visit walkMS.org today.
“Some people just overhear us discussing our
preparations and want to pitch in,” says Marilena.
“We may be diverse, but we all have something in
common that I never expected—besides wanting
to end MS!” she says, laughing. “We’re all super-competitive and we each want to come in with the
most money. This year we raised $12,000 and next
year we want to raise even more.”
‘The disease strikes all’
As many Walk MS team captains know, creating
a successful team often means finding a way to
keep it growing and crossing social boundaries to
do so. As with any challenge, there can be bumps
in the road.
Just ask Beverly Johnson. Diagnosed in 1993,
the Chicago native only started taking her MS
seriously after an exacerbation nearly 10 years
later, and formed a Walk MS team, Bev’s Crew.
She started by recruiting her friends, and then
continued to build her team by speaking at health
fairs, churches and senior centers.
Part of her job as team captain was to hang up
fliers to promote Walk MS. “Last year, I went to
get the posters specifically to put up at a senior
center. But when I took a look at them, something
was wrong. There was not one senior or person of
So Beverly, who is African-American, made her
own posters featuring herself and her husband
Johnny. Then she wrote to the president of her
“It was really hard to do that,” she says. “But I
told him my concerns—that the posters didn’t
represent my own experience. And he listened.
This year, the posters will look different.”
Bev’s Crew is now one of the top teams in the
Chicago area, and, to support the Society’s
initiative to raise awareness of the disease in the
African-American community, Beverly mentors
newly diagnosed African-Americans.
“A lot of people—even doctors—think that ‘certain’
people don’t get MS,” Beverly says. “The first
doctor I was seeing said I was too old to have it.
Then she told me that black people rarely get it.
Well, I have it and so do four older ladies of color
in my church. Now I feel it is my job to go into
the black population and tell them that the disease
To learn more about how to start—and build—
your team, visit walkMS.org. n
Patricia Wadsley is a freelance writer who contributes
regularly to Momentum.