Glastonbury Kids To Take Over the Reigns of Mother's Walk MS Team
GLASTONBURY, Conn. – Since her diagnosis in 1997 Kathleen Heymann and her husband, Andy, have captained a Walk MS team nearly every year. This year, their sons are taking the reigns, hoping to engage others with a little boyish charm and a lot of grit and determination.
Kathleen’s diagnosis was completely unexpected. The symptoms began slowly. First, there was tingling in her hands and feet. She was healthy and active and attributed the tingling to a pinched nerve or sports related injury. However, a trip to the doctor revealed other results.
Tests revealed scarring in Kathleen’s brain. She was immediately diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a unpredictable and potentially debilitating disease.
“I was in shock; I didn’t know much about MS,” said Kathleen, who was 29 at the time of diagnosis. “I left with a handful of pamphlets.”
Andy was in disbelief.
“The news was at first overwhelming,” added Andy. “We were surprised and didn’t know what to think.”
Kathleen’s diagnosis led her to the National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter, where she enrolled in a class to learn about her disease. The next year, she participated in her first Walk MS event while she was pregnant with her first child. This experience led Kathleen to captain a walk team, “Kathy’s Krew”, for roughly ten years, and participate in other events such as Bike MS and Women Against MS, or WAMS.
“Getting involved is empowering and helps me to deal with the disease,” said Kathleen. “Seeing others who are affected by MS is powerful and emotional.”
Kathleen’s family recognizes the importance of being involved with the National MS Society. This year, Kathleen and Andy’s sons, Drew, 13, and Kyle, 9, have decided to help out and captain their own walk team in Manchester for 2012, called the “DK Squad”.
“My mom has always had a walk team,” said Drew. “Now that I’m old enough I thought I should take over.”
The Heymann family poses in front of their home in Glastonbury. From the left: Andy, Drew, Kyle and Kathleen. Kathleen was diagnosed with MS in 1997. In her honor, Drew and Kyle have formed their own walk team, The DK Squad. The family will step out in Manchester at the 2012 Travelers Walk MS, presented by North American Power.
Drew and Kyle didn’t know their mother before MS. Kathleen was diagnosed when she and Andy were newly married and had just moved to Glastonbury. Both boys understand their mom’s battle with MS and want to help make a difference. Their goal is to recruit family and friends from school to participate in the event. They want to raise at least $1,000 for MS.
The boys have big ideas on how to fundraise for the “DK Squad.” They are working with Moe’s Southwest Grill on Main Street in Glastonbury, which will donate a percentage of their profits to the Walk team. They also want to sell rubber bracelets at school to get their friends involved. Drew indicated he would like to start a soccer tournament to benefit the walk team and Kyle wants to start a lemonade stand.
“I think it’s great for the kids to get involved and participate as much as they can,” said Kathleen, who is among more than 6,000 Connecticut residents living with multiple sclerosis. “They’re in charge of the team but Andy and I will offer guidance along the way.”
While Drew and Kyle are captaining the walk team this year, the entire family is still in some way affected by Kathleen’s MS. The family feels very lucky.
“It’s a struggle to deal with the unpredictable nature of the disease,” said Andy. “But we’re fortunate to maintain a normal lifestyle. People that don’t know Kathleen has MS would have no idea because she’s so active.”
Kathleen is able to keep a modified version of the lifestyle she had before MS. Her symptoms are aggravated by heat and exhaustion, but she is still able to work part time.
“Sometimes my mom has to take breaks while walking but I’m used to it,” added Drew. “I’ve never known her to not have MS.”
The 2012 Travelers Walk MS, presented by North American Power, will be held Sunday, April 22, at 12 sites located across the state. Funds raised ensure ongoing research to find better treatments and a cure and also provide for the continuation of vital programs and services offered by the National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter. Community partners include WTNH News 8; Clear Channel Radio Connecticut, The River 105.9; 97.7 WCTY Country Favorites; and The Fox 95.9. For more information on Walk MS or to register, visit www.ctfightsms.org and click on the Walk MS logo.