16 teams registered for this year's Walk MS

Local goal for Saturday event raised to $11,500

lgierer@ledger-enquirer.comApril 4, 2014 

Lori Kiker spent Thursday preparing for the 2014 Walk MS to be held Saturday in Columbus.

"I've got 50 lime green shirts to sort out," Kiker said. Representing the Chattahoochee Valley Multiple Sclerosis Support Group, her team members will be wearing them.

The team is one of 16 already registered for the annual affair. Besides the members of the group, their friends and family members will be participating.

"I have someone coming from Dothan," the 49-year-old Phenix City woman said.

The three-mile walk starts at Golden Park at 10 a.m. rain or shine, with registration beginning an hour earlier. Teams can join at walkms.org. You do not have to be on a team to participate.

There is no charge to take part in the event, which is about awareness as much as raising funds. It is one of nine such walks taking place in Georgia this spring.

Laurie Palmer, development manager for Walk MS in Georgia, said the state goal is $704,000. Last year, $698,000 was raised.

She said, locally the goal is $11,500 -- an increase of a thousand dollars over what was raised in 2013.

Kiker said one member of her team has already raised about $2,500.

Palmer said 78 percent of the money raised goes toward research, emergency financial assistance, respite care, scholarships and an education program. The rest goes for various expenses, including those involved in putting on the walks.

Palmer said there are more than 9,000 people in Georgia who suffer with MS.

The Multiple Sclerosis Society describes MS as a chronic disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system.

As part of the immune system attack on the central nervous system, myelin, the fatty substance that surrounds and protects the nerve fibers, is damaged, as well as the nerve fibers themselves. The damaged myelin forms scar tissue called sclerosis, which gives the disease its name.

When any part of the myelin sheath or nerve fiber is damaged, nerve impulses traveling to and from the brain and spinal cord are distorted or interrupted.

MS symptoms may be mild, such as numbness in the limbs, or severe, such as paralysis or loss of vision.

Common symptoms include fatigue, pain, seizures, respiration problems and swallowing problems.

Kiker said constant fatigue and a loss of memory are reasons she had to leave her job as a receptionist.

"We don't know the cause. There is no cure," Palmer said. "That is why these walks are so important."

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