TORONTO, Feb. 28
/CNW/ - Twenty-five year old Canadian triathlete and Olympic gold medallist
Simon Whitfield has agreed to be an MS Ambassador for the Multiple Sclerosis
Society of Canada.
Whitfield, who won the gold medal in the triathlon at the Olympic Summer Games in Sydney Australia last September, readily accepted the Society's invitation. Its mission -- to be a leader in finding a cure for multiple sclerosis and enabling people affected by MS to enhance their quality of life - - is near his heart. MS has affected the life of his uncle, Hugh Ames, for more than 20 years. Ames, who lives in a Kingston continuing care hospital, uses an electric wheelchair, which he controls with head movements.
"He is incredible," says Whitfield, who describes his uncle as one of the most inspiring people he has ever known. "Coping with his MS, he runs an Olympic triathlon everyday. Any hardship or obstacle I face pales in comparison," he said.
Multiple sclerosis is an often disabling disease of the central nervous system, and Canada has one of the highest rates of MS in the world. Its symptoms are highly variable and unpredictable, but can include vision and speech problems, extreme fatigue, lack of balance and coordination and even paralysis. Approximately 50,000 Canadians are affected by multiple sclerosis, which usually strikes between the ages of 20 and 40.
There is currently no known cause or cure for the disease, although advances in research and treatment are giving hope to those affected -- something Simon Whitfield hopes to do as well.
"Simon is an inspiration to many Canadians, and we welcome him as an MS Ambassador," says Alistair M. Fraser, MS Society national president and chief executive. "We believe his example of commitment, perseverance and supporting his community will inspire others to do the same as they take part in our fund raising events and become MS Society volunteers."
The MS Society of Canada is the only national voluntary health agency in Canada with the dual mission to both find a cure for MS and to enable people affected by MS to enhance their quality of life. For more than 50 years, the MS Society has funded research projects lead by internationally renowned scientists, has provided services for people with MS and their families, has worked along side people with MS in advancing the rights of people with disabilities and has educated the public about this all-too-often disabling disease of the central nervous system.
For further information:
Deanna Groetzinger, VP, Communications, Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, 1-800-268-7582 or (416) 967-3007;
Jen Smith, Manager, Communications, Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, 1-800-268-7582 or (416) 967-3015