TULALIP — As rain, wind and chilly temperatures plagued Western Washington on Saturday, April 13, hundreds of participants from around Snohomish County withstood the weather to complete the Walk MS, in support of those with multiple sclerosis — a disease which, like rain, is more prevalent in the Pacific Northwest.
Mitzi Ahles, of Arlington, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a disease that attacks the central nervous system, more than two years ago.
“When I got the diagnosis, it was heartbreaking. But I figured it’s better than something that is going to kill me in three months,” said Ahles, who is the mother of a 3-year-old boy and a 7-year-old girl. “I can live with it. I’ve been pretty lucky. My thinking and trying to get my words out is the hardest part, and the fatigue. But I haven’t had any vision problems and that’s what I went in for, so that’s good.”
On April 13, she and 63 team members with orange shirts emblazoned with the name “Lumpy Bruisers” walked a circuit around the Seattle Premium Outlets in Tulalip.
“This is my second year doing the walk,” said Ahles. “Last year we raised $1,250. My goal for this year was $1,000. So far we are at $2,800.”
The Lumpy Bruisers received an award for having the largest team of the day. “Last year we had 35 team members and this year we had 63,” she said.
“It’s exciting getting everybody together, and having fun and walking for the cure. Between this year and last year, I think because of the weather we might not have as many people, but we’ve got to walk, and I am excited I got so many people and raised so much over goal.”
The National MS Society hosted seven walks across the state of Washington on April 13, and another in Seattle on April 14.
“Our fundraising goal is $2 million total for the eight walks throughout Washington,” said Jessica Kurtz of the National MS Society. “The pledge deadline is May 6, so people can keep bringing in donations until then.”
Kurtz hoped that the Walk MS would raise awareness in the community.
“This is great event for people living with MS to come out and see how many people support them. People are just so excited to see all the encouragement, and it makes them feel really good.”
For more information on the Walk MS or to donate email walkMSnorthwest@nmss.org.