September 24, 2003
By Michael Hilborn
Fort Frances Times
Let’s hope Lori Wikdahl really likes Fort Frances. After all, she walked a long way to get here—3,550 km to be exact.
Actually, Wikdahl didn’t stay long. She just stopped at the SAAN store on Scott Street last week to do a little fundraising for her 2003 Trans-Canada Trek for Multiple Sclerosis and to take a well-deserved rest.
Wikdahl is one of 50,000 Canadians living with this neurological disorder that tends to attack people in the prime of life—between the ages of 20 and 40—and destroys the lives of more than just the afflicted.
“It separates people,” Wikdahl explained. “It ends marriages, ends relationships, ends careers, and ends lives. Sometimes it even kills.”
MS is the most common disease of the central nervous system. The cause is unknown and there is no cure. Wikdahl said her sister also is afflicted and there is a good chance her brother will be, too.
There appears to be an hereditary component to the disease but like so much about MS, there is much medical science still doesn’t know.
The disease sometimes takes an unpredictable course—affecting some people over a period of years and others over a period of months. Wikdahl has been living with it since 1989, though she was not formally diagnosed until 1996.
And that, she says, is part of the problem.
“Because the symptoms vary from person to person and the only definitive diagnosis is with an MRI, there could be as many as 5,000 Canadians out there right now who have it [MS] and don’t know it,” said Wikdahl.
That’s one of the reasons she has embarked on this 6,430-km odyssey. She wants to raise awareness as well as money for research.
Wikdahl’s journey began May 1 at Cape Jourman, N.B. (under the Confederation Bridge) and, if all goes well, should end in Vancouver some time in February.
But it hasn’t been easy.
“MS has been the biggest obstacle of my trek,” she said. “I made it this far on inspiration and determination, and I’m making it home on faith.”
Home for Wikdahl is Mission, B.C., where she has lived since moving from Winnipeg in 1989.
She says she goes through a pair of shoes every four days, which is why she is so dependent on her sponsors like SAAN, which has provided all her shoes and clothing for the journey.
Her other corporate sponsors are Cruise Canada RV and KOA Kampgrounds.
Wikdahl is looking for more sponsors and donations for her cause. If you are interested in supporting her, she can be reached at 1-888-826-6252, 604-854-4067, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also make donations through a special account set up by the Royal Bank of Canada. The account number is 5047188 Branch 03040. Donations can be made at any branch of the Royal Bank.
You can read more about MS and Wikdahl’s trek by going to http://transcanadatrek.1hwy.com
Copyright © 2003, Fort Frances Times