Record Staff Writer
Residents from Roswell and surrounding communities will join together for “Walk MS: Roswell” on Saturday at Cahoon Park.
“We’re getting food for at least 100 people,” said Patty Jones, co-ordinator for the event. “A lot of people register the day of the walk, so it’s always a surprise what we wind up with at end.”
Registration at the park and check-in begins at 8 a.m., followed by a 9 a.m. official start time. Registration will be at the park pool.
The walk is a fundraiser for the National MS Society, and the funds raised support MS research and provide services to individuals impacted by multiple sclerosis, an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system.
“I have MS, and I am a member of the MS support group here,” said Jones. “I grew up here, moved back here when I found out I had MS, and I like to do anything I can to raise awareness about MS and its affects on each person and family when dealing with it.”
Jones said her father, the late Dr. Charles Montgomery, had his office, Roswell Radiology, on Alameda Avenue many years ago. “It’s nice to be back in small town,” she said.
Since her diagnosis with MS, Jones said she tries to stay active. “My former job was as a travel agent, I started out here in Roswell in 1980.” She medically retired due to the MS in 1996. “We were a airline kind of family. My husband, Gary, worked for Southwest Airlines 22 years until he retired,” Jones said.
Jones said the MS Society helps local residents by providing support groups as well as working on medical research.
“For instance, at the local, private level, having groups you can go to sit down, share your experiences with, and have them know what you are going through, is a huge help,” Jones said. “We have a saying in the autoimmune community — ‘You don’t get MS unless you get MS’ — and it is really true.”
Jones said that MS patients often are indistinguishable from anyone else. “On the outside, a lot of people think all MS patients are in wheelchairs or have to use walkers,” she said. “But a lot of times patients look normal on the outside, but are having to deal with internal symptoms, such as vertigo, vision issues, or extreme fatigue. Having a local group you can sit down with and say, ‘this is what happened to me,’ is a real plus.”
The National MS Society is also changing lives with its funding of medical research. “The work the society has done has made it possible for new medications to be discovered and released,” Jones said.
“On the national level, walks like this help fund research into really great breakthroughs in medication for MS,” she said.
In her case, the injections she was taking left her with flu-like symptoms for five days. “I would get one good day to go run errands, then it would be time for another shot.”
In September a new oral medication was released and it treats Jones’ symptoms without the side effects. “The point is, I can finally can get out and get things done, and my life is not based on a schedule of when I don’t have a 100-plus degree fever.”
The research by the MS Society helped the new medications come onto market, and as a result, Jones said she recently got her first really good checkup in 10 years.
On Saturday, participants in the walk can choose between a half-mile and three-mile route, and enjoy free food and entertainment before and after the event.
Visit walkMSnewmexico.org to register to walk, volunteer or make a donation. Online registration is currently open. Registration is free, however, all participants are encouraged to actively fundraise.
Jones said anything residents can do to come out and support the event is welcome. “Please come out and walk, donate, or just stop by and say ‘hello.’”