Fighting Multiple Sclerosis in 2013
Okay, so it’s been quite a while since I’ve made a post on this art blog due to the house moving that Kim and I have been knee-deep in. I’m actually taking some time to compose this post, and I have to say that it too isn’t much about art. I need to make this post seeing that May is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month, and that May 29, 2013 will be World MS Day. Please continue to bear with me . . .
Anyway, life is full of unexpected outcomes. Yeah, everybody knows that, I hope. Here’s one:
Decades ago when I was a kid in grade 2, here in Ontario, the MS Society of Canada worked with provincial public schools to raise awareness about Multiple Sclerosis (MS). I can remember that a leading drive was the “MS Sleuthing” campaign in which we cute, small elementary school kids were deployed en masse each year to canvass neighbourhoods for donations toward MS research.
I don’t know if this is still done in schools; I don’t think so, but the campaign featured a cartoon bloodhound dressed like Sherlock Holmes, and carrying a large magnifying glass as he looked for clues to solve the MS mystery. We too were “MS Sleuths”.
I canvassed but the effort really didn’t have an impact on my young brain. I never knew anyone with MS, and never gave it any thought that I might someday, or even that I may have the disease myself.
Today, I can happily say in my forties that I have never had MS; knock on wood. I have; however, become linked to a number of people who have contracted it.
When I returned to Ontario in ‘89, after living in British Columbia for nine years, I got a small apartment and my cousin Tony and I would play chess there for hours. Me in my late teens, him in his early tewnties; between checkmates and sarcasms, we’d talk about girls, sports and athletics, future careers, politics, family, music, his incessant bragging about having an IQ of 130 and the gradual progression of his symptoms. Tony is the first person I’ve ever known to have MS. He died when he was 28.
Linda is a beautiful girl in BC that went to the same high school that I did, and associated with my small circle of friends. Unfortunately, I never knew her in high school. The first time I met her was in ’99 when Kim and I went out to BC to see my best friend Gaston get married to Charlene. We met Linda’s family and we, especially Kim, have had sporadic correspondence with Linda ever since. I think it was shortly after meeting Linda back then that she was diagnosed. She’s still fighting the fight.
Laurie has been a very close friend of mine and Kim since the late 90’s but we didn’t meet Laurie’s parents until several years ago. By that time, her mother Renata was mainly getting around by electric scooter. Laurie took great, great care of Renata until she died a few years ago. She misses her mum so very much.
Last year, a man came to a Flying Low art sale and bought one of my prints. The art collector asked if we were collecting for MS research. We explained that we were only accepting donations for a local food bank N2N but we did consider raising money for the MS Society of Canada in Tony’s honour. That got the collector talking to us a bit more because his wife had passed away from MS the year before.
We know Trish and Mandy through Kim’s brother Marty. Trish and Marty have been together for I don’t know how many years now. They have two beautiful daughters, Ashley and Olivia. Trish and Mandy are sisters. I guess it was in 1975 that their mother Sharon was diagnosed. Sharon lived with MS for thirty years until her fight ended in 2005.
Statistics on how many people in a specific population have MS are important but I’d rather skip the stats here, especially seeing that the stats vary from country-to-country. I will say again; nonetheless, that I had no idea that I would be connected in some way to five people who have had to directly or indirectly deal with this disease.
It was Mandy who organized a group effort in her mother’s name (Team Sharon) to participate in the May 5, 2013 MS Walk at Confederation Park in Hamilton. Fighting MS is one of those circumstances of which “tears are not enough”. It requires action, and it was high time I did something realistic about the real problem. With Kim, I joined Team Sharon. Thanks Mandy!
This was our first walk to raise money for the MS Society of Canada. Team Sharon’s goal was $600. We managed to rake up $707. Kim and I raised $220 of that on our own; not too shabby for this old “MS Sleuth”.
There must have been a few thousand participants in the 22-year old event from hundreds of other teams. When the afternoon was done, a grand total of $175,000 was accomplished. Thank you to everyone who supported the cause. If we are to use that figure as an average for every other city around the world that holds an MS Walk this year, imagine the amount of money that will be gained for researching a cure, providing treatments, caregivers, scooters, elevators and a wide range of other necessities for patients who need them.
For more information on Multiple Sclerosis, what you can do to help fight this disease, how to help a patient cope with it and even what your donations are used for get in touch with the MS Society in your part of the atlas. Here are some websites:
- MS Society of Canada
- MS Walks (Canada)
- MS Society UK
- National MS Society (US)
- MS Association of America
- Union Roska Czech Multiple Sclerosis Society
- MS Australia
- Nouvelle Association Française des Sclérosés en Plaques
You’ll also find direct links to just about all MS organizations around the planet if you just click HERE!
Tell ‘em TheMOFMan sent you!
Now this is an art blog after all, so here’s a link to the MS Society of Canada where they showcase the artwork of some artists who are patients and/or supporters of the cause. I hope the society does more of this.
Keep hope and fight a good fight! All the best to you!