Climb for MS to be held Saturday, Dec. 11 in Wallingford
WALLINGFORD, Conn. – How does one rise up to battle a disease for which there is no cure? For New Haven’s Sean Ewers, the answer is fairly literal.
On Saturday, Dec. 8, the 29-year-old will host Climb for MS at Prime Climb in Wallingford. Proceeds will benefit the National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter.
Back in Ewers’ native Ohio, his aunt has lived with multiple sclerosis for as long as he can remember. Ironically, just four years ago, his mother was also diagnosed.
“It was scary,” said Ewers, an ATM servicing coordinator for Higher One in New Haven. “But since my aunt has lived with MS for so long, having some prior knowledge of the disease has helped us. We didn’t go into it blind and are moving forward.”
Ewers figured that since he can’t physically be there for his family, he would physically do something for them.
An avid rock climber, Ewers approached Brien Roscetti, owner of Prime Climb, an indoor rock climbing gym, about hosting a fundraising event to benefit MS. Little did he know how close the cause was to Roscetti’s heart.
“Sean spends a lot of time in the gym, and we held a fundraiser last year for ovarian cancer together,” said Roscetti. “When Sean came to me and asked if we could do it for MS this year, I asked him, ‘Did you know my wife, Barbara, has MS?”
As it turns out, Barbara’s sister also lives with the disease.
“I had no idea,” said Ewers. “I come to the gym all the time and I guess it just never came up. There’s such a wide range of ways the disease can affect a person. It feels great that we’re going to raise funds for a cause that we have such a strong connection with.”
More than 6,000 Connecticut residents, like Barbara Roscetti, live with the effects of multiple sclerosis. The cause is unknown, and, as a result, there currently is no cure. Symptoms can include, among other things, numbness in the limbs, difficulties with vision and speech, stiffness and, in some more severe cases, total paralysis. The progress, severity, and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot be predicted.
Brien describes his wife, Barbara, as “tough as nails.”
“Barbara’s MS has caused some fatigue and weakened her physically,” said Roscetti. “But she likes to stay active. Whatever muscles work, she keeps them strong.”
Each day, Brien drives Barbara from their home in Clinton to her work in Essex. Barbara is no longer able to drive due to “foot drop,” a common symptom of MS. Because of the foot drop, Barbara is unable to move her leg from the gas pedal to the brake.
Brien took up rock climbing shortly after Prime Climb opened in 1993. It was then the first indoor rock climbing gym in Connecticut. Three years ago, Brien left his job with Hewlett-Packard and bought the gym.
According to Brien, a number of factors lead to the decision.
“It’s more fun than other gyms, I get to hang out with like-minded people and spend days and months outdoors,” he said. “Rock climbing sort of became a form of meditation, you can’t think about anything else while you’re doing it, everything else drops away for a while.”
A new climbing wall is currently being completed expanding the gym beyond 15,000 square feet of rock climbing surfaces, with the highest wall reaching 40 feet. In February, 2011, Connecticut Magazine named Prime Climb one of the top 25 places for dates in Connecticut.
The rock climbing gym will be free to enter from 1 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 8. Anyone who enters the gym on that day will have the option of donating their climbing fee to the cause. Additional donations are also encouraged. The day will also feature competitions, a bake sale, and a drawing for prizes.
The gym features varied levels of difficulty and is equipped with adaptive climbing gear. Or as Brien put it, “We can get almost anyone up on the wall.”
Ewers hopes the event is both financially successful and physically engaging.
“We’re still getting companies to donate, hopefully people will file in and challenge themselves to climb,” said Ewers. “It’s something different to try as a fundraiser. We’re getting really excited.”
Brien added his incentive to climb for the cause.
“You never know what you can do until you try,” said Roscetti. “Come surprise yourself, conquer a fear and find out a little more about yourself. Climb to the top to help defeat this disease.”
Climb for MS is an example of Do It Yourself fundraising. Funds raised through Do It Yourself fundraising events, such as Climb for MS, ensure ongoing scientific research to find a cure and provide for the continuation of vital programs and services offered by the chapter.
Prime Climb is located at 340 Quinnipiac Street in Wallingford. For more information, visit their website at www.primeclimb.com.
To learn more about Do It Yourself Fundraising, multiple sclerosis and the many ways to become involved, please visit the National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter’s website at www.ctfightsMS.org.