More MS news articles for Jan 2002

Courage Will Carry Woman Through Relay/ Kathy Schubarth: Battling a Disease

Jan 29,  2002
Bill Radford; The Gazette
Multiple sclerosis has many faces.

Fans of TV's "The West Wing" see one; Martin Sheen plays a U.S. president affected, but only slightly, by the disease.

Kathy Schubarth shows another face of MS; diagnosed eight years ago, the 41-year-old Springs woman relies on an electric wheelchair to get around. Her speech is slow, though her wit is quick. Asked if she was athletic before the MS struck, she replies with a definite no: "If I thought of exercising, I'd lie down until that feeling passed."

MS is a chronic, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. Colorado, for unknown reasons, has one of the highest rates in the country. The progress, severity and symptoms vary.

Schubarth's courage in fighting the disease led brother Frank Strainis to nominate her.

"It kills me to see her like she is, and me being so far away," said Strainis, who lives in Indiana. Whenever he talks to his sister, though, she is upbeat. At a family gathering last fall, she was determined not to let her condition affect the others' plans.

"We would have drag races in her wheelchair," Strainis said. "It was like, 'OK, so what, I've got this. Here's my wheelchair. Let's set up an obstacle course and go racing with it.'"

Kathy, he said, was practically his best friend as they grew up.

"The main reason I nominated her is just because of who she is. ... I just find it so great that she's not letting this beat her."

Schubarth was surprised to learn her brother considers her an inspiration. She also was surprised when the letter came telling her she had been chosen as a torchbearer; Strainis hadn't told her of the nomination.

That positive attitude her brother so admires doesn't come easily, Schubarth said. "You have to really try."

She did go through a period of self-pity. "It's like a stage of death. But you have to pull yourself up."

Kathy and her husband, Darren, are parents of a 13-year-old boy, Wesley. All are big Olympics fans. They've begun cutting out articles on the torch relay for a scrapbook that will chronicle Kathy's moment of Olympic glory, which will be on North Academy Boulevard on Thursday afternoon.

"I just can't wait," she said. "It can't come soon enough."
(C) 2002 The Gazette