Participants of the Abbotsford MS Walk enjoy a sunny stroll

Walking for a cause June 12

The  2011 Scotiabank MS Walk, will take place in Hope on June 12.

This marks the first time that Hope has hosted the event, which has taken place throughout the province for more than two decades.

In the past, area residents have had to travel to Chilliwack or Abbotsford to participate, but event coordinator Deanna McIntyre, of the Fraser Valley Chapter of the MS Society of Canada, decided it was time to expand.

“Our chapter goes all the way from 264th street (Aldergrove) to Boston Bar … but we’ve never hosted an event in the Eastern area of our chapter,” she said.

By bringing the walk to Hope, McIntyre believes it will attract new participants.

“If you live in Boston Bar, you may not want to drive to Abbotsford or Chilliwack. But you would go to Hope.”

While smaller than most host communities, McIntyre said Hope has all the resources needed to run a successful event.

While she doesn’t know exactly how many people will take part, online registration has picked up the past week.

‘We don’t have huge expectations for the numbers, we just want to host a successful event.”

The 5 km walk begins at Memorial Park a loops around the town, ending where it began. The event starts at 11 a.m. with check-in beginning at 9:45 a.m.

McIntyre said the walk is wheelchair accessible – it takes place completely on paved routes – and, for those who are feeling energetic, you can make it a 10 km run, by doing the loop twice.

Participants can register ahead of time by visiting www.mswalks.ca or by calling 1-877-746-9331.

Registration will also be accepted on the morning of the event.

Adults who bring in donations totaling $125 or more will receive a T-shirt (kids 12 and under will also receive a shirt if they raise $35 or more). Other prizes will also be available. Everyone is welcome to attend. Donations can be handed in at the check-in table prior to the walk.

– What is multiple sclerosis?

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord.) The disease attacks the protective myelin covering of the central nervous system, causing inflammation and often destroying the myelin in patches and at times the nerve fibres (axons) themselves. When this happens, the usual flow of nerve impulses along nerve fibres (axons) is interrupted or distorted. The result may be the wide variety of MS symptoms, depending upon what part or parts of the central nervous system are affected.

Symptoms may include vision disturbances such as double or blurred vision; extreme fatigue; loss of balance; problems with coordination; pain; depression; stiffness of muscles; speech problems; bladder and bowel problems; short-term memory problems, and even partial or complete paralysis.