Organizers hope annual multiple sclerosis event brings in $185,000.
March 25, 2001
By Vic Ryckaert
Sherri Dallas planned to walk a couple of miles on this brisk Saturday morning to raise money to help find a cure for multiple sclerosis.
But her body failed her.
It's just one symptom of the disease that brought about 2,000 people to the Union Federal Football Center on the Westside to support MS Walk 2001.
"Everyone has a cross to bear. We just have to work through it," said Dallas, a 32-year-old occupational therapist who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis four years ago. "It can always be worse."
The neurological disease strikes without warning; symptoms vary greatly from patient to patient but can include abnormal fatigue, loss of balance, severe vision problems and paralysis. Symptoms can be permanent or sporadic.
Dallas is able to get around with the aid of a walker. She considers herself lucky.
"My endurance is really bad," the Indianapolis woman said, standing alone near the starting line minutes after the charity event began. Her husband, Nick Dallas, was among the walkers.
The Indiana chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society has 5,342 registered clients, but the group estimates that about 7,700 Hoosiers have the disease. The national group estimates that more than 300,000 Americans are afflicted, with about 200 new cases diagnosed each week.
While there are many medical treatments available, there is no cure.
Theresa Brun, president of the Indiana chapter, said organizers hoped to raise $185,000 from Saturday's event; 60 percent of the proceeds will be used to support programs in Indiana, and the remainder will support research efforts.
After meeting her, few would guess that 48-year-old Sallie Aull battles multiple sclerosis. For her, the symptoms come and go, often triggered by stress or even humidity. Sometimes when the disease flares up, Aull loses her vision. Other times, her legs go numb. She gets very tired.
"You just never know -- it's like a ticking bomb," she said.
In Aull's case, the effects are temporary. She considers herself lucky.
Doctors don't know what causes multiple sclerosis. It tends to attack people aged 20 to 40. Two-thirds of patients are women. Most are Caucasian and live in cold-weather climates. Studies suggest heredity may play some part in who gets the disease.
Candace Campbell of Lafayette was diagnosed with the disease two years ago. Campbell, 49, used to play softball and work for an automotive company. The once-independent mother of four now uses a motorized scooter.
"I've learned to accept help," she said. "When you have MS, you need support, you need help."
The MS Walk is the group's largest single fund-raising effort in Indiana. Last year's walk, held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, brought out 1,400 participants and raised $160,000, Brun said.
This year is the first time the event has kicked off from the complex where the Indianapolis Colts practice. Walkers had their choice of 1 mile, 5 kilometer or 8 kilometer courses through Eagle Creek Park.
Brun said 1,750 people pre-registered and several hundred more registered Saturday, making 2001 a record year despite the bitter chill and whipping winds.
"People realize MS is a lifelong struggle," Brun said. "They are willing to brave the elements for one day to help make a difference."
Contact Vic Ryckaert at (317) 635-7592 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright 2001 Indiana Newspapers Inc.