BUFFALO N.Y. (WIVB) – Sunshine splashed over Canalside Buffalo this morning as some two thousand people took a leisurely stroll with a rock-hard mission. They were all part of Walk MS 2015 to fight the often disabling disease multiple sclerosis.
The Gordon Highlanders bagpipers led the colorful parade of people out of Canalside and onto the one and four mile walk routes through downtown Buffalo. State Senator Tim Kennedy and Assemblyman Mickey Kearns both applauded the volunteers for their dedication to the fight against M.S., which is so prevalent in this area.
Walk M.S. is the biggest fundraising event of the year for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and helps to fund research and local patient programs and services. It’s estimated that some 3400 people are living with M.S. in Western New York. This area has one of the highest rates of M.S. in the entire country.
The local chapter of the National M.S. Society hoped to raise $270,000 dollars through today’s Walk in Buffalo. Last year the Society funded $3 million dollars in research projects in the Western New York area.
Many of the walkers formed teams in honor of a relative or friend with multiple sclerosis. Again this year, the team “Paving the Way to a Cure” was the top fundraising team with $20,700 donated to the work of the National M.S. Society.
Rich Warden of Silver Creek, who was diagnosed with M.S. close to 20 years ago, headed up a team of ‘Warden’s Walkers.’ Warden says he was encouraged to see so many people at the Walk today and is hopeful for new treatments and a new understanding of the disease.
News 4’s Jacquie Walker, who emceed the kickoff of the Walk, joined ‘Team Joey’ in honor of Joey Marra from Niagara County. Joey is believed to be the youngest person ever to be diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in Western New York. He was just 8 years old when doctors determined he had the disease of the central nervous system. He is now 18, and with his family’s support, works every day to overcome a number of unpredictable symptoms of M.S. He set a goal of walking 5 miles today surrounded by many of his father’s co-workers from UPS.
This is the 26th year for an M.S. fundraising walk in WNY and Channel 4 has always been a sponsor. The name of the walk has changed over the years, but the mission remains the same: to understand, treat, and eventually, to cure multiple sclerosis.
Multiple sclerosis interrupts the flow of information within the brain and between the brain and the body. Symptoms are highly unpredictable. They range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. Most people with M.S. are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50. There is no cure.