Over 2 million individuals are affected by multiple sclerosis worldwide
On Saturday April 19, hundreds of walkers clad in bright green and orange filled Riverbend Park to confront Multiple Sclerosis.
The Bend Walk for MS, a nationwide endeavor, gathered over 400 participants to support those living with MS and raise money for research.
MS is an immune-mediated disease in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the central nervous system. Worldwide, over 2.1 million individuals are affected. In Oregon and Southwest Washington alone, about 7,500 individuals have received financial support from funds raised through events such as the Walk for MS.
The walk “connects people living with MS and those who care about them,” according to Ruedi.
The Bend walk was only one of many recent fundraisers in Oregon. Other walks in Portland, Salem, Corvallis, Eugene and other target points have been raising money for the cause.
The bulk of the volunteers in Bend were Central Oregon Community College students, according to Amber Ruedi, the director of Student Affairs for the Associated Students of COCC. Ruedi helped gather volunteers after hearing of a need from the walk’s coordinator, Wendy Allison.
“Only two people had signed up,” Ruedi said. “I told her I would rally the troops and try to get 20 more to help volunteer.”
While COCC did not get to 20 student volunteers, help from the college was a main source for volunteers at the event. Volunteer registration before the event showed that 13 out of 18 volunteers were COCC students.
“I thought it was awesome,” said Stephanie Pedro, ASCOCC director of student organizations and a volunteer at the event.
Participants weren’t required to raise money in order to walk – but many did.
As for the volunteers, the staffing was just enough to cover the event, according to Pedro.
“With ASCOCC, Amber helped get the volunteers into [the Walk for MS], and so just by doing that there was a good number,” Pedro said.
The Bend Walk for MS has wrapped up for the year, but volunteers can expect to see the event in Bend again next year – in the continuing effort to raise money for MS.
Ongoing support is still needed to confront the disease, according to the National MS Society website.
“MS stops people from moving,” the society stated. “We exist to make sure it doesn’t.”
Junnelle Hogen | The Broadside