COLUMBIA — Sunday marks the start of National Multiple Sclerosis Awareness week.
The National MS Society Gateway Chapter, which serves more than 90 counties in Missouri and Illinois, will be sponsoring awareness events all week long.
The week will start with a rally from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday at Harpo’s in Columbia. Rallies will be held at the same time in other locations, such as Cape Girardeau and St. Louis, uniting people across the state.
At the Columbia rally, Robert Burger, a neurologist from University Hospital, will discuss his research. Local people living with MS will also share their stories, said Dan Friedman, the director of marketing and communications for the National MS Society.
Computers will be available for people to sign up for Walk MS, which will be held from 12 to 6 p.m. April 21 at Stephens Park. Last year, 400 people participated in the Columbia and Moberly events, said Denise Falco, community development manager at the Gateway Chapter.
"Painting the town orange"
Friedman said the organization uses the color orange for awareness because it is a bright color that coincides with the desire to be unique and stand out.
The National MS Society will be selling shirts and bracelets, along with other orange-colored awareness items such as mugs, pom-poms and coasters.
Falco said participants will be “painting the town orange” by walking around with orange ribbons and handing out thank-you cards to businesses that support the organization.
KeLani, a salon and spa in downtown Columbia, will be offering to paint nails orange for $15.
Myles Goble, a neurologist from Neurology, Inc., and other health care professionals and Gateway Chapter members will give a presentation titled “New Connections” from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Grand Cru Restaurant, 2600 S. Providence Road. The dinner program is free. The registration deadline is Monday.
The event was designed so people living with MS could share their experiences with each other, and also to help people who have recently been diagnosed or have just moved to Columbia, Falco said.
Here are some facts about multiple sclerosis from the National MS Society.
- Every hour someone in the United States is newly diagnosed with
It is a chronic, often disabling autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks myelin, which protects nerve fibers in the central nervous system.
- Since the symptoms can be unpredictable and vary from person to person,
the disease can be difficult to diagnose.
It is two to three times more common in men than women.
- Most people diagnosed are 20 to 50 years old, though it can still appear in young children.
- Today, there are approximately 400,000 people with the disease in the United States, and it has affected 2.1 million people worldwide.