Jul 10, 2013
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||CONTACT: Susan Ashline|
|July 3, 2013||OFFICE: 585-271-0805 (X70344)|
National MS Society Board Member’s 50-Mile March
Elmira, NY – Jennifer McKenzie, of Elmira, is new this year to the Board of Directors for the National MS Society Upstate New York Chapter, but she’s no stranger to the cause. For the past three years, McKenzie has pushed her personal boundaries at one of the Society’s most physically and mentally demanding fundraising events: Challenge Walk MS.
McKenzie, who is living with multiple sclerosis, says she enjoys physical challenges, so when her MS became inactive, she decided it was time to test her strength and stamina.
“I didn’t want to do just a 5K run,” says McKenzie.
A physical therapist, when McKenzie learned about Challenge Walk MS, she went into the office and asked a coworker, “Hey, do you want to go on a really long walk for MS?”
After the coworker readily agreed, McKenzie dropped the bomb: It’s a 50 mile walk. Also, it was taking place in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. That did not deter the other woman, so they rounded up some more coworkers – all physical therapists – and formed a team called, The Hot Pack, a name that was woefully misunderstood, says McKenzie. Rather than indicating a level of vanity, McKenzie says they chose the team name to reflect the way they planned to ease their muscle pain after this strenuous fundraiser – by using hot packs.
Team members all wore hot pink soccer socks during the walk that first year, as a joke, but soon realized it was comfortable apparel to wear walking such a distance.
“Friction is your worst enemy,” says McKenzie.
The team has since experimented with different socks. One day they walked in Wonder Woman socks, another day they went with a retro theme.
Challenge Walk MS has a fundraising minimum of $1,500 per person, but McKenzie’s team went well above that, turning in nearly $17,000 in donations the first year they walked. She expects to raise at least that much again this year.
Training for the September walk will begin soon, she says. “Every year it’s just more fun, and we try to keep it light and do our best, but we don’t stress over it.”
The event gives participants an option to walk 50 miles over three days (September 6 through 8) or 50 kilometers over two days (September 7 and 8).
Last year, McKenzie and crew proudly walked all 50 miles and, “We were dead last.”
She emphasizes it is not a race. “We enjoyed it. We took our time. One guy does Challenge Walk MS all over the country. He has all his stops mapped out. It’s a super fun walk. You wouldn’t think walking 50 miles would be fun. The volunteers are awesome,” she says.
Some people drop out, and volunteers are there to shuttle them back to home base. Volunteers also run themed rest stops, copying scenes from the Wizard of Oz or dressing as medieval knights in shining armor with chariots, there at walkers’ disposal, ready to fill water bottles.
At the end, there is a massage tent, a candlelight ceremony, and a slide show of all the pictures volunteers have taken throughout the day, among other things.
“They make you feel appreciated,” says McKenzie.
What does she like best about participating? “You meet up with people you met the year before. It’s a little reunion. It’s a bunch of girls getting away for the weekend. You get dehydrated. You get delirious. You tell hysterical stories.”
Register for Challenge Walk MS by visiting MSupstateny.org, calling Stephanie Bradshaw at 518-464-0850, or emailing Stephanie.Bradshaw@nmss.org.
For more information, contact Susan Ashline, Communications Manager, 585-271-0805 (x70344), Susan.Ashline@nmss.org.
About multiple sclerosis and the National MS Society Upstate New York Chapter: Multiple sclerosis, an often disabling disease of the central nervous system, interrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed. The rate of diagnosis in Upstate New York is about double the national average. MS affects more than 2.1 million people worldwide and more than 12,800 people in the 50-county region served by the Upstate New York Chapter. For more information, visit www.MSupstateny.org.