All About Multiple Sclerosis

More MS news articles for July 2003

'Sister Act' to hit the road in battle against MS

Thursday, July 3, 2003
By Joan Greene
The Tribune-Review

Walking in marathons could become a habit for the Sister Act, a team of four siblings training for a 50-mile walk to benefit multiple sclerosis.

The Freimuth sisters, who grew up in Mars, are among the 1,000 people expected to participate in the MS Challenge Walk, from Sept. 5 to 7. The 50-mile walk, sponsored by Security Moving-Storage-Logistics in Washington, D.C., starts in Annapolis, Md., and ends on the west lawn of the Capitol Building in Washington.

The initial goal of the Challenge Walk is to raise more than $2 million for multiple sclerosis, said Nancy Talbot, public relations manager for the walk. Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, lifelong and often-disabling disease that randomly attacks the central nervous system, decreasing control over the body.

Graduates of Mars Area High School, the Sister Act consists of Kathy King, 46, of Valencia; Anne McSweeney, 41, of Sparks, Md.; Beth Wynn, 38, of Penn Township; and Maureen Pass, 36, of Austin, Texas.

Describing the Sister Act as "virgin walkers," King said the sisters decided to participate in the walk because Pass and their brother, Jim Freimuth Jr., 44, of Seven Fields, have multiple sclerosis.

"None of us are really walkers," King said. "We just took the bull by the horns and decided to run with it."

To help participants become acclimated, the walk will be divided into 20 miles on Friday, 20 miles on Saturday and 10 miles on Sunday.

Training for the past few months, the sisters walked last week at Deep Creek Lake in Garrett City, Md., where they averaged approximately five miles every day.

King, the leader of the pack, has walked up to 14 miles a day and has become a familiar sight along Brown Hill and Sandy Hill roads, walking three miles each way to her job at the Valencia Post Office.

"One day I actually walked to church (Holy Sepulcher in Middlesex). It felt good. It was 51/2 miles each way," said King, who looks forward to celebrating her 47th birthday during the walk on Sept. 6.

Each sister needs to raise $1,500 in pledges, totaling $6,000 for the team. King, who has worn out a pair of shoes, has already reached her goal.

Pass has inspired her sisters to get to work and train for the walk. Although she experiences fatigue and numbness in her arms and legs from the disease, Pass in April participated in a 150-mile bike ride from Houston to Austin to raise money to help find a cure for multiple sclerosis.

"When you get out there, the spirit just carries you," Pass said. "You see people older than you, people in wheelchairs. I realize that one day I can be sitting in a wheelchair and wishing I had done the walk.

"I want to walk while I can and do it for all those who can't."

McSweeney is dedicating each day of the three-day walk to her sister, brother and a friend who has the disease and is in a wheelchair.

"It will be a blast," said McSweeney, who plans to wear a T-shirt designed by her daughter, Marie, that lists the names of people who have made pledges and have relatives and friends who have multiple sclerosis.

A long-distance runner in high-school, Wynn said the sisters will make it across the finish line, "even if we have to carry each other to the finish."

Jim Jr. and his parents, Jim Sr. and Mary Freimuth of Middlesex, will be at the walk, cheering the sisters on.

"I applaud my sisters," Jim Jr. said. "They have been training really hard."

Copyright © 2003, The Tribune-Review Publishing Co.