More MS news articles for Oct 2001

Paddling for a cause

Brother goes on trip to raise disease awareness

Monday, October 1, 2001
Helena Daily World

HELENA (AP) -- John Latecki of Smithville, Ohio, is traveling 1,800 miles this summer by water to raise money for multiple sclerosis. His trip began July 17 in Millersburg, Ohio, where his sister, Julie McAfee, lives.

He hopes to complete the trip by Oct. 16 in New Orleans, five years to the day after his sister was diagnosed with MS.

Latecki, 24, arrived in Helena last week and says the purpose of his trip is to raise awareness of MS and possibly raise donations for the MS Society.

"I've met a lot of people who have the disease worse than my sister," he said. "Her attitude is always upbeat and that motivates me. She doesn't even take any medication."

Latecki recalled that he was cooking tacos when he realized his sister's multiple sclerosis was serious. His nephew commented on how good the tacos smelled, but Latecki's sister said she couldn't smell them. Latecki said at that point he felt helpless.

Since then, he has moved beyond the feeling of helplessness. Now, helping is all he can think about -- helping raise money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society of Northeast Ohio, and helping those who battle the disease daily.

Latecki came up with the idea of the river trip as a unique way to raise awareness of the disease. He works for Sines Enterprises, trucking and warehousing company. His boss gave him $1,000 and the time off to make the trip.

The Bending Branches Co. gave Latecki his paddle for the trip. It is bent at a 14-degree angle, making the paddling easier.

"I've met a lot of nice people and really surprised me how generous they are," Latecki said. "I haven't actually met any bad people on my trip. People all along the rivers let me stay in their homes, shared meals with me, and let me use their showers. It's been that way the entire way."

His trip began July 17 when he pushed off the bank along the Killbuck Creek. He paddled 24 miles before entering the Walhonding River. From there, he made his way to the Muskingum River, which took him to the Ohio River and more than 800 miles later, to the Mississippi.