By Mason W. Canales
Killeen Daily Herald
HARKER HEIGHTS – More than 160 walkers and runners stepped out against multiple sclerosis at Carl Levin Park on Saturday.
"MS stops people from moving. We are here to make sure it doesn't," said Denise Alexander, walk manager for the Lonestar Chapter of the Dallas National Multiple Sclerosis Society, using a megaphone to hype walkers at the event.
The 5K MS walk is the Lonestar Chapter's first walk of the year. Other walks will be in Waco, Tyler and Dallas.
Walkers were mostly family and friends of people who have MS.
Cleola Lewis of Nolanville has a daughter who was diagnosed with MS when she was 20 years old. Six members of her family and several friends participated.
"We haven't found anyone else in our family with a history of MS," Lewis said. "And we are all out here running for her. This is a family event."
Last year and again this year, Angela Gardner of Harker Heights, who has MS, challenged Fort Hood's 31st Chemical Company – whose members have been running and volunteering for the walk for the past five years – to a 5K run instead of a walk.
"I run for all those who can't," Gardner said.
Gardner has had a hard time walking and has had trouble with speech during the past six weeks. Since she had only been fully mobile for two days before the walk, she brought a sponsor to run in her place.
"She tries to give everything she can to everyone, and I adopted that from her," said Joe Hindmand of Harker Heights, her sponsor and family friend. "I figure it is better for me to do it than her trying to hobble along."
Gardner did run the last half of the course.
"It is a healing power just knowing that people care," Gardner said.
The walk raises money to fund research toward finding a cure and to support local residents with MS and the organizations who help them, Alexander said.
Early estimates indicate the event raised more than $5,000, said Peggy Muller of Copperas Cove, the walk's organizer.
Muller, who has MS, has organized the walk for five years and will continue to do so, she said.
"It is time to educate more and more because over 450,000 people have MS," Muller said.
Ever since she was diagnosed, she has been working to educate and help fund research for the disease.
"My promise to myself is that I am not letting go and I am not quitting," Muller said.
Muller believes that with programs and events such as the walk, she and others will see a cure for the illness in her lifetime.
"I want it stopped for the babies, stopped for the young ones," Muller said.
State Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen, appeared at the walk to show his support for the cause.
"It is the least I can do for people that volunteer their time, try to support them," Aycock said.
Donations can be made at www.mswalklonestar.org.
Contact Mason W. Canales at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 501-7567