More MS news articles for Nov 2001

Keys resident plans to travel 1,350 miles for MS

LONG WALK FOR A GOOD CAUSE

http://stories.keysnews.com/kwc/282211480655533.bsp

Sunday, November 25, 2001
BY MANDY BOLEN
Citizen Staff Writer

The trip from Key West to Philadelphia usually takes five hours, at least two different airplanes and an in-flight snack.

But for Beth Bevenour, the 1,350-mile journey will involve 71 days, six pairs of shoes and a lot of steps. The Key West restaurant worker is walking to the City of Brotherly Love to raise money and awareness for multiple sclerosis.

When Bevenour's sister, Cara Marie Abbate, was found to have the chronic autoimmune disease last year, Bevenour realized how little she knew about the potentially debilitating disorder for which there is no cure.

"I realized that not enough people know about MS, and I couldn't sit still without helping my sister," Bevenour said last week in the midst of preparing a Thanksgiving meal, planning her trip and soliciting sponsors.

She was astonished by the $1,300 per month her sister must spend on interferon medication to stem the reproduction of the virus. And she wanted to help people in the Keys who are affected by MS.

Eighty percent of all money raised in the walk for MS will be donated to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the National Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, earmarked for use in the Keys for patient programs and needed equipment. The remaining 20 percent will be given to Abbate to help defray medical and medication bills.

Since learning of her sister's diagnosis, Bevenour has been attending monthly meetings of the Saturday Support Group in Marathon. The meetings are attended by people whose lives have been affected by the disease that attacks almost twice as many women than men, and that can cause chronic fatigue, numbness, tremors, loss of balance and neurological problems.

The support group was created by Don Kenny and Dana Littleton, both of whom have MS and who had no one with whom to share their experiences. Now in its eighth month, the group has earned recognition and approval from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, which was at first hesitant to endorse a group, saying there were not enough people with MS in Monroe County to warrant the group.

Kenny estimates that about 300 people in the Keys are living with MS, and about 10 percent of them are attending the monthly meetings.

Bevenour has also been in attendance and has been paying attention to its members as they discuss symptoms, drugs, treatments and therapies.

"These people are going to have MS for the rest of their lives, so is my sister," she said, explaining that the disease is most often characterized by a pattern of relapse symptoms followed by periods of remission that may or may not return the patient to their previous level of health. Also, some MS cases are characterized by a steady progression of disability with no remission.

Her goal, other than completing the trek up the East Coast, is to raise $100,000 through a series of corporate sponsorships and private donations. Several fundraisers are being planned in Key West, including a Most Beautiful Bartender Contest and a 50/50 Raffle, in which, Bevenour insists, the winner will be encouraged to keep their half of the $10,000 rather than being shamed into donating it back to the cause.

The trip from the Southernmost Point to the Liberty Bell begins March 24, and Bevenour plans to have a support team and vehicle with her along the way as she stops to speak and continue to raise awareness of MS.

Also, the support vehicle will be needed for the 17.3 miles over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel, which does not allow pedestrians under any circumstances, Bevenour said laughing.

For more information, or to make a donation of money or supplies, call 295-2546, or visit http://www.bethswalkforms.org

Story was published in the Key West Citizen on Sunday, November 25, 2001