STORRS, Conn. – On Sunday, April 19, University of Connecticut (UConn) band members will march to a different tune, performed by instruments of change. They’ll lead students, faculty and residents in the Travelers Walk MS at Storrs.
In 2008, walkers at the Storrs site raised $42,000, contributing to a statewide total of $1.23 million gathered from 12 walk sites.
“The walk was great last year,” said Ryan Brady, a member of the UConn band and an organizer of the event. “We knew there would be more people than the year before, but we never expected such a turnout.”
In only its second year, more than 300 people participated.
Brady is also the vice president of service for Tau Beta Sigma, a co-ed, honorary, band sorority. Brady and three other students organized the Storrs Walk in 2007 after learning of two band members who were living with MS, Jessica Lund and Kimmie Everson. Brady said he was inspired by his two friends, who have since graduated.
“We had the motivation to see what we could do to help,” he said.
Like Lund and Everson, more than 6,000 Connecticut residents battle the potentially debilitating effects of MS, an autoimmune disease affecting the central nervous system. There is no cure. Symptoms can include, among other things, numbness in the limbs, difficulties with vision and speech, stiffness, loss of mobility and, in some more severe cases, total paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot be predicted.
This year, Brady and fellow band member Karrie Lundgren are organizing the Travelers Walk MS at Storrs. Lundgren is the vice president of service at Kappa Kappa Psi, a co-ed, honorary, band fraternity.
Such dedication to the community is commonplace for these two organizations, said UConn marching band director David Mills, Ph.D.
“These students do practically everything to operate the band on top of their school work and their involvement in their service organizations,” he said. “Their leadership is incredible and their dedication tremendous. Not only do they support the band but they also get involved in other causes, such as the Walk MS, which illustrates their desire to help others. I consider myself quite lucky to work with these young people.”
In fact, Brady’s 2008 walk team raised more than $2,200 and received the award for the organization that brought in the most money at Storrs. This year, organizers hope to raise $46,000 at Storrs, contributing to a $1.275 million statewide goal.
On Sunday, April 19, at 9 a.m. people at 11 walk sites will step out across Connecticut; with one more scheduled a week later on Sunday, April 26, in Woodstock. Walk sites include Cheshire, Clinton, Enfield, Litchfield, Manchester, New London, Simsbury, Storrs, West Hartford, West Haven, Westport and Woodstock. Teams of four or more can register online at www.ctfightsMS.org.
Travelers Walk MS community partners include WTNH News Channel 8/My TV 9, Clear Channel Radio Connecticut, which includes The River 105.9, Country 92.5, KISS 95.7, 104.1 FM, ESPN 1410 AM, KC 101.3, 960 WELI and ESPN 1300 AM. Other community partners include 95.9 THE FOX and WCTY 97.7. For more information about the Travelers Walk MS, presented by Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center, please visit www.ctfightsMS.org. To learn more about programs and services offered by the chapter to those living with MS, e-mail programs@ctfightsMS.org.
Katy Nally, a resident of West Hartford, Conn., will graduate from the University of Connecticut (UConn) in May. She is currently pursuing a Bachelors of Arts degree in journalism and serves as a public relations intern at the National MS Society in Hartford. For more information on internship opportunities with the Connecticut Chapter, please contact Karen E. Butler, Vice President of Communications, at kbutler@ctfightsMS.org.