At the Academy Awards this past February, actress Selma Blair made headlines for walking down the red carpet. In case you missed the pre-ceremony coverage, or the dozens of news stories following the event, Blair’s walk garnered this increased attention because her walk this year was unique, and very important. Last year, Blair was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, a severely debilitating disease of the nervous system. Blair had announced her diagnosis to the general public last October, and at the time of the awards ceremony, her symptoms required her to walk down the carpet with a cane. Still, she powered through, and brought with her some important national attention to a topic that does not always receive the focus it deserves.
Multiple Sclerosis, or MS, is a very unpredictable disease that disrupts the flow of information both within the brain and between the brain and the rest of the body. Symptoms can range from moderate to severe. Some have attacks of MS with symptomless periods in between the attacks, while others have symptoms that progressively grow worse as the disease progresses. Symptoms can include blurred vision or blindness, weakened muscles, decreased coordination, speech disorders and a variety of other visual, motor and sensory problems. There is no known cause, no tests to predict its onset, and currently, no cure.
While Selma Blair’s public fight with the disease is significant, as it has brought MS into a national spotlight greater than it has ever had before, it is important to remember that she is not the only person currently suffering from the disease. There are over 2.3 million people worldwide dealing with MS, with at least two to three times more women affected than men. Based on a recent study by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, nearly 1 million of those people are in the U.S. While the disease is daunting, there is still help, and there is something you can do to help move closer to finding a cure.
This Saturday, April 6, the Great Park will play host to Walk MS: Irvine, a walk to help fuel groundbreaking MS research and provide life-changing services to those affected by MS by creating a supportive community of friends, families and loved ones who fundraise and connect. With approximately 2,500 already expected to walk and raise over $400,000, the event is set to be a big contribution toward funding research and taking another step toward a cure.
According to Walk MS Director Robert Cota, “The first oral medication treatment for those with MS wasn’t approved by the FDA until 2010 — prior to that, options for MS treatments were injected through shots or infusions. It takes a host of resources to get new medications on the market, and fundraising is a big part of this. Since its inception, Walk MS: Irvine and our community have raised millions of dollars, and our Walk MS events across the U.S. surpassed $1 billion in 2017. Historically, 92 percent of participants in Walk MS: Irvine have a connection to MS, so the event is also a chance for the MS community to come together and support one another. Together we are stronger, and I think this event exemplifies that sentiment.”
Irvine has been host to Walk MS events for a number of years, and serves as a wonderful community gathering. Says Cota, “I’ve personally been involved with Walk MS: Irvine and can attest to the contagious energy of this event. There’s something special about walking shoulder-to-shoulder with thousands of your neighbors who share the same hopeful goal — to end MS.”
Walk MS: Irvine will take place at the Great Park, at 6950 Marine Way, Irvine, CA 92618. To register ahead of time or to volunteer, visit walkMS.org, call 855-372-1331, or email email@example.com. Day-of registration begins at 7 a.m., and the walk itself will begin at 8 a.m.