A drizzling rain did not stop people from gathering at Capaha Park in Cape Girardeau April 22 to raise awareness and funds to fight multiple sclerosis (MS).
“We are all here to end MS,” said Meghan Freeman, development specialist with the National MS Society in St. Louis. The goal was to raise $12,000 with the local walk. These walks have been held since 1988. “With all our walks, last year we reached the $1 billion mark,” Freeman said.
After learning she had MS in the 1980s, Jackson resident Mary Meyer was told that she would be in a wheelchair within five years. That prediction has never come true. Today, she uses a cane for long-distance walks; otherwise she walks unassisted. She gives credit to drugs that have been discovered to treat MS.
Meyer attended the first Walk MS with her son, Chad. They had to go to St. Louis to do so.
The next year (1989), Meyer brought the Walk MS to Cape Girardeau. She and her sister, Karen Smith, have attended the walk every year.
Meyer cut the ribbon to begin the walk this year.
“You are not required to raise money to participate in the walk,” explained Freeman. However, those who raise at least $100 for the MS Society are eligible for prizes.
Walks are attended by people of all ages and levels of disability. Some walkers have MS. Others walk in honor of people they know who have MS. A common phrase is, “I walk for people who can’t,” said Freeman.
When people first attend a Walk MS event, they learn about the MS Society and help that is available. “It’s the first event people with MS attend,” said Freeman. “It’s the entry point to the National MS Society.”