LANCASTER – Organizers estimated nearly 2,000 residents took to the streets of Lancaster Saturday for Walk MS: Antelope Valley.
The annual event raises money and awareness for the thousands of AV residents affected by Multiple Sclerosis, an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system.
“For people that are living with MS in the Antelope Valley, the disease can be rather devastating,” said Denise Nowack, of the National MS Society. “The money that is raised through this walk will help to bring programs and services to help people better understand how to live with MS, to help them access care for their MS, and to help their families live with the disease, as well.”
Walk MS: Antelope Valley kicked off around 9:30 a.m. at the Lancaster Marketplace, with an opening ceremony that included the presentation of colors by the Boy Scouts Ta-To-Ka-Dan Chapter, the singing of the National Anthem, and a pep talk from organizers.
“Your presence here will definitely keep us moving in the right direction toward a cure,” organizer Christine Grontkowski of the National MS Society told the crowd.
Groups of participants huddled together in colorful, matching T-shirts designed in honor of friends and family members diagnosed with MS.
Local businesses like Wal-Mart and Wells Fargo also formed walking groups.
Organizers estimated up to 50 teams participated.
“We have our top teams and then we have smaller family and friends teams too,” said Nowack. “Someone rallies around that person with MS and you all of a sudden have this big family… the spirit is just amazing!”
The Active Mommies formed a group of about 20, and dubbed themselves Mommies and Daddies for MS.
“One of our members has MS, so we’re walking in support of her and we’re wearing pink t-shirts to identify ourselves,” said Sara Neasham.
Another group of seven walked in support of a family member diagnosed with MS.
“We formed a group in support of my aunt in New Jersey who has MS, “ said Lorri Henrickson.
Other groups simply came out to lend their support for the cause.
“We’re here because we want to give back to our community and support the cause,” said Carla Trammel of the LOVE Social Group. “Anyone of us could be afflicted at any time so why not go out and lend your support?”
The actual walk kicked off around 10 a.m. and was led by the Xtremintentionz Street Riders. The biker group came out in full force to support fellow rider Michael Carlson, who was diagnosed with MS on Nov. 17, 1998.
“These guys are all here supporting me… they tell me it’s because they love me,” Carlson said. “My biggest rock in all of this would be my wife Valarie.”
“It’s a great feeling to see that there are so many people supporting him and encouraging him to keep up the fight and stay strong,” said wife Valarie.
Participants took part in a one-mile or a three-mile walk. For the one-mile walk, participants headed south on Valley Central Way to Avenue J and then headed north on Valley Central Way back to the Lancaster Marketplace. For the three-mile walk, participants walked west on Lancaster Blvd, south on 32nd Street, and then east on Avenue J, before heading north on Valley Central Way back to the Lancaster Marketplace.
The celebration continued well into the afternoon with refreshments, awards and entertainment. This year’s Walk MS: Antelope Valley has raised more than $85,000 so far. Organizers are hoping to raise $115,000 by the fundraising deadline of June 15. The event raised $120,000 last year by the fundraising deadline. Proceeds benefit the Southern California & Nevada Chapter of the National MS Society.
For many more pictures from this event, visit our facebook page.