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The Connecticut Chapter works to improve the quality of life for people affected by MS in Connecticut and raise funds for critical MS research. Join the movement toward a world free of MS.



June 6, 2012

Second annual event to raise money for MS


Newington Woman Ready For Throwdown in Old Wethersfield

OLD WETHERSFIELD, Conn. – Newington resident Karen Guarnaccia has been a spirited combatant in the fight against multiple sclerosis since being diagnosed with the disease in 1994. On Saturday, June 16, in one crushing blow, she will take MS to the mat.

Guarnaccia will host the second annual Sangria Throwdown to benefit the National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter, based inHartford. The event, which last year took place in Rocky Hill, will be held this year at Keeney Memorial Cultural Center in Old Wethersfield and will feature several participants competing to prepare the best sangria. Guests will be treated to sangria as well as hors d’oeuvres and live entertainment. This year’s event also features Teresa LaBarbera, WTNH News 8 traffic reporter, and music by Mike and Dennis.

“It’s so much fun seeing who can come up with the best sangria,” said Guarnaccia. “Last year’s throwdown was a huge success. We were filled to capacity. I never expected so many people would come out. It just shows that everyone loves a glass of sangria.”

Guarnaccia was only 37 years old when she was confronted with the first symptoms of multiple sclerosis, as she had difficulty walking and started tripping for no apparent reason. After several tests, an MRI revealed that her balance his issues were caused by MS. The disease evolved into secondary-progressive MS, which meant that her symptoms gradually became worse and slowly robbed her of mobility and independence.

Despite the health issues and being forced to use a wheelchair to get around, Guarnaccia never allowed herself to lose hope. Instead, she became a strong supporter of the Connecticut Chapter, as she serves on the chapter’s board of trustees and was the first to take part in a photo essay project for the chapter with commercial photographer Mike Marques, of West Hartford. In February, Guarnaccia was one of five Connecticut MS spokespersons selected to take part in a national MS awareness ad campaign.

“My reaction to my disease is reflected in my two children,” explained Guarnaccia. “To the degree I cope, they also cope. It takes more energy trying to be ‘normal’ than it does to just be myself.”

More than 6,000 Connecticut residents, like Guarnaccia, are affected by multiple sclerosis, a potentially debilitating disease. The cause is unknown and, as a result, there is currently no cure for MS. The progress, severity, and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot be predicted.

Funds raised for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Connecticut Chapter through events, such as the Sangria Throwdown, ensure ongoing scientific research to find better treatments and a cure, as well as to provide vital programs and services offered by the chapter to those in the state living with multiple sclerosis.

The Sangria Throwdown takes place Saturday, June 16, from 7 to 11 p.m. at Keeney Memorial Cultural Center at 150 Main Str. in Old Wethersfield. Tickets are $25. Proceeds benefit the National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter. Guests must be 21 or older. For more information or to order tickets, please contact Karen Guarnaccia at 860-529-3266 or

To learn more about multiple sclerosis and the many ways to get involved, please visit the National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter’s website at and click on Do It Yourself Fundraising.


About the Connecticut Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society

The Connecticut Chapter strives to provide knowledge and assistance to help people with MS and their families maintain the highest possible quality of life. These goals are achieved through vital national and local programs.

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. 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 with the disease. MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide.


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