By Hayley Kappes
Killeen Daily Herald
HARKER HEIGHTS – Almeda Tyron will keep walking in support of finding a cure for multiple sclerosis as long as she is still physically able to do so.
Tyron, of Copperas Cove, was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease three years ago and participated in the Multiple Sclerosis Society Lone Star Chapter's annual walk and run Saturday to increase awareness about the incurable disease.
Tyron was not walking alone during the morning event at Carl Levin Park. She, alongside others living with MS, were shown support from friends and family members.
Tyron was joined by her siblings, children and father, who all wore matching T-shirts that said "team Medie."
"There's going to come a time when I won't be able to walk. I can still do it today and that's why I'm out here," she said. "MS is an indescribable disease. One day you're fine. The next day, the pain is excruciating. You never know when that pain is going to hit you when you get up in the morning."
Martha Carbaugh of Killeen participated in the walk for the second consecutive year. She walked hand-in-hand with her husband, Scott.
"MS is a scary disease," Carbaugh said. "I really want to push people to know more about it so they can become more aware about the disease and how it affects people."
There was a banner on which participants could write messages commemorating loved ones afflicted by the disease. Some of the messages included "To a future to find a cure so our next generation will no longer have MS, a world with no MS" and "Every step you take brings us closer to ending MS."
Jackie Rincher-Esau is a member of Heart of Texas Multiple Sclerosis Support Group in Copperas Cove, which provides a forum for people diagnosed with MS to discuss symptoms and medications that are used to treat it. Rincher-Esau was diagnosed with MS two years ago after she experienced stroke-like symptoms and had problems keeping her balance.
She said it's one of the most underrecognized and misdiagnosed of the autoimmune diseases.
MS affects the central nervous system, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. It causes pain and numbness in the limbs and can render a person dependent on braces or a wheelchair. There is no cure for the disease, but people with MS can lead functional lives.
"MS is often mistaken for muscular dystrophy or Parkinson's," Rincher-Esau said. "The first year I started having symptoms, I didn't know what I had."
Peggy Muller, organizer of the walk and run, said she has a responsibility to educate the community on MS.
"If you talk to people, someone always knows someone else who is affected by this disease," Muller said. "We've got kids in the last couple of years being diagnosed. I want to do as much as I can to help build money for the research. As long as God will let me, I'm going to keep doing this until we have a cure."
Volunteers continuously checked with participants to make sure they were not in any pain during the walk.
Muller said participants with MS were determined to finish.
"If you really want to do it, then get out there and start walking," she said. "There's no shame if you don't finish. You did it."
Contact Hayley Kappes at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7559.