COLUMBIA — People living with multiple sclerosis in central Missouri will now have closer access to support services.
The Gateway Area Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society is planning to open a new office in Columbia, starting with a health care professionals reception Wednesday at 5 p.m. Based in St. Louis, the Gateway Area Chapter also has offices in Cape Girardeau and Shiloh, Ill. The Gateway Area Chapter, established in 1955, contributes funding for research and provides services to a 90-county area covering parts of Missouri and Illinois.
- Health care professionals reception, 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday
- Ribbon-cutting ceremony, noon Thursday
- Grand Opening Public Celebration, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. The event will feature a Bike MS training ride, live music, food and games
The Columbia office at 4816 Santana Circle aims to assist close to 1,000 people living with the disease in central Missouri, according to a news release from the National MS Society.
"It's important for us to have a presence in the (Columbia) community and to have an office where our clients can come," said Dan Friedman, director of communications for the Gateway Area Chapter.
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, often disabling, disease that attacks the central nervous system. Symptoms include numbness, loss of vision and paralysis. The cause is still unknown, making the disease difficult to treat effectively.
The new Columbia office will provide a variety of services for people living with multiple sclerosis and their families in central Missouri, according to the release. The services will include financial assistance to cover medicine and other costs, educational programming, wellness services and social programming.
"We want to let people know we're here and for them to take advantage of it," Friedman said.
The office will also provide a base for advocacy activities in Jefferson City and help support Bike MS, the Gateway Area Chapter's largest fundraising event, which will be held Sept. 11 to 12 at Boone County Fairgrounds.