FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Megan O’Neal: email@example.com
SOCAL COUPLE TAKES GREAT STRIDES TO STOMP OUT MS
Sept. 27, 2013, Southern California… A Californian woman from Irvine, Jackie and her husband Tim Oates, will serve as lead Super Crew volunteer coordinators in the upcoming three-day 50 mile walk fundraising event for Multiple Sclerosis, held Sept. 27-29. The National MS Society’s Challenge Walk will begin that Friday morning at Carlsbad’s Flower Fields and end around noontime Sunday in downtown San Diego at Embarcadero Marina Park South.
Jackie has been connected to MS, a chronic, unpredictable and disabling disease of the central nervous system with no known cause, cure or prevention, since the age of fifteen when her own mother, Patricia Luther, first received her diagnosis. Growing up, Patricia did her best to shield her children from MS’s devastating effects and worked full-time to keep much of the burden from the eyes of others. It was not until Jackie’s father passed away in 1991 for Jackie to see the toll MS can have on its hosts. In her 50’s by this time, Patricia’s “relapse and remit” MS suddenly spiraled to solely relapse; her symptoms escalated as her face went numb and Jackie watched her mother lose feeling in her legs. Patricia put up a great fight, but after nearly 40 years, she eventually lost her battle against MS in 2007.
After her Patricia’s passing, Jackie decided to accept the Challenge where her mother left off. Unable to participate as a walker do to a knee injury, Jackie joined team “We Walk Cuz We Care” in 2009 as a Crew volunteer in the Southern California Challenge Walk MS in memory of her mother. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Southern California Challenge Walk MS is an event held once a year, where 250 walkers travel from the Carlsbad Flower Fields to Downtown San Diego, 50 miles total in three days to raise money and awareness for MS. As a volunteer, Jackie joined approximately 400 others who came together to put on the event; she helped at rest stops, set-up and tear-down, and cheering along the route.
Jackie elaborates, “When I was younger, I remember knowing my mom had MS, but much of the time she kept her symptoms to herself. As an adult I helped my mom with her constant struggles as her MS symptoms worsened, yet I can only imagine how hard it must have been for her while my siblings and I grew up. I want to help in any capacity because I see how much great work the [MS] Society does; whether it’s funding research for new medications or providing free therapy and support groups, it all makes a wonderful impact on those living with the disease.”
The next year, the mother of three recruited her husband of 14 years Tim and together they volunteered as part of a select group Crew member “Captains” in the 2010 Southern California Challenge Walk. Responsibilities of Crew Captains include working all three event days at rest stops, leading a group of volunteers and encouraging or assisting walkers in any (oftentimes goofy) way possible. The couple fell in love with the event and decided to become more involved; the following two years Jackie and Tim volunteered as Super Crew members for the Southern California Challenge Walks, where they raised over $11,000 dollars!
The duo has completely immersed themselves into the MS Society’s efforts. Jackie and Tim are members of the “Extra Mile Committee,” which works year-round to prepare for the Challenge Walks, and more specifically are leaders in the Crew Committee to help unite and organize all MS Walk volunteers. They donate weekends to work the smaller one-day Walk MS events (where Tim can be heard singing the National Anthem) and have served as volunteer Captains for Bike MS events. Jackie and Tim were honored as Walk MS Volunteers of the year in 2010 and are slated to be recognized by the National MS Society as Volunteers Of The Year for the CHAD awards later this month; they were hand selected out of all Pacific South Coast Chapter volunteers whose total is among the thousands.
About the Challenge Walk
The National MS Society’s Pacific South Coast Chapter said about 80 of the 220 walkers preparing for the upcoming 12th annual Challenge Walk have been diagnosed with MS, the most common neurological disease leading to disability in young‑ to middle‑aged adults. Most people are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, and more than twice as many women as men have MS. MS interrupts the flow of information within the brain and between the brain and the body. Symptoms cannot be predicted and can vary greatly, ranging from numbness in the limbs and extreme fatigue to loss of balance and muscle coordination or paralysis.
In order to participate in the Challenge Walk, each Walker and Super Crew member must raise a minimum of $2,500 in donations. The Challenge Walk’s first day, 20-mile walk will begin at the Flower Fields in Carlsbad and end at the San Diego Marriott Del Mar Hotel. The second day, 20-mile walk will begin at the hotel and end at Sunset Point in Mission Bay, where buses will shuttle walkers back to the hotel for a dinner and entertainment. The final day, 10-mile walk will begin at Sunset Point and end around noontime at Embarcadero Marina Park South, located behind the San Diego Convention Center in Downtown San Diego. Challenge Walk information, as well as donations to walkers, can be made at www.MyMSChallenge.com.
Since the event’s inception in 2002, when 179 local walkers raised $496,000, the Pacific South Coast Chapter’s Challenge Walk has raised a cumulative total of more than $10 million, among the highest dollar amounts of any of the nine other Challenge Walk MS events organized by the 50-state network for MS Society chapters in the U.S. The Southern California Challenge Walk MS, organized by both the San Diego-based Pacific South Coast Chapter and the Los Angeles-based Southern California & Nevada Chapter, is the only Challenge Walk west of the Mississippi River.
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