Jul. 18, 2003
Frank Matys: The Advance
Lori Wikdahl dreams of walking away from multiple sclerosis, a debilitating disease that once left her all but confined to a bed, robbed of self-confidence, pride and respect.
Step by step, the 43-year-old British Columbia woman is doing what she can to ensure that dream becomes a reality -- if not for her, then for the thousands of Canadians now struggling to cope with MS.
"This is how I am dealing with a difficult personal challenge, and ultimately doing something important with my life," she said.
Diagnosed in 1996, Wikdahl is in the midst of a cross-country trek that aims to raise funds for MS research, while increasing awareness of the disease.
She arrived in Barrie on July 10, then headed north to Orillia. "No matter how bad it gets, if I walk, I've had a day I can be proud of," she added.
Virtually bedridden at one point, Wikdahl initially began walking as a form of therapy. It was a slow and painstaking process that began with an hours-long hike home from a local store.
Encouraged by her successful completion of a 10-kilometre fund-raising walk in April of 2000, Wikdahl determined to one day travel the country on foot. "I thought, 'If I can stay this way for the next year, I'm going to walk across Canada,'" she said.
A journey that began on May 1, at the foot of New Brunswick's Confederation Bridge, will conclude in Vancouver next December.
As of Thursday, Wikdahl had traveled close to 2,000 kilometres.
"I just knew it was something I had to do while I can, because for me there are no 'tomorrows,' only 'todays,'" she added.
Those wanting to contribute to Lori Wikdahl's 2003 Trans-Canada Trek for Multiple Sclerosis can do so at any Royal Bank location (branch 03040, account number 5047188.) Charitable tax receipts will be issued by the MS Society of British Columbia.
Donations can also made on-line at http://www.mssociety.ca
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