Mon Nov 18, 2002 - 11:55 AM ET
A Lorain County woman has spent more than a decade tracking a mysterious illness spreading throughout her town.
NewsChannel5's Tonya Strong reported on Sallie Giar's search for answers.
"It's not an accident, by any means," she said. "We all became aware that there was something wrong."
What's happening in the small village of Wellington is a mystery, but Giar is devoted to solving it.
"Frustration is our middle name," she said.
Giar has multiple sclerosis; so does Marilyn Andel's daughter.
"I'm convinced that there is something in this town that is (causing it)," Andel said.
Giar has lived with the disease for more than 20 years and has steadily sought information as to why there have been what she said are at least 30 cases of MS diagnosed in the tiny town of 4,500 people.
When Giar began sharing her concerns with local residents, she learned that others have been curious too.
"She is in a wheelchair and cannot feed herself, brush her teeth or comb her hair," one resident said.
Giar and her husband, Michael, want to know if people in Wellington are more susceptible to MS because of possible toxic waste and byproducts excreted into the environment by area industries, past and present.
"You know, it can't be coincidence when you've got people living next door to each other and across the street from one another," Michael Giar said.
Sallie Giar and her supporters have made countless attempts to have a study conducted specifically on the Wellington cluster. She said her efforts have less to do with helping herself and more to do with preventing future cases of MS.
"We don't want anybody to be exposed to these things or develop this disease if they don't have to," she said.
Giar is not sure if the answer lies in Wellington, but she is seeking health officials to ask the right questions.
Giar refuses to take credit for work to raise public awareness about the MS cluster.
She said that most of all, she wants to make sure that she and others
affected by the disease get the answers they deserve.
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