Main Event: Walkers try to topple 'very nasty disease'

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"It's been something we always do together," said JoAnn Eidem (second from left) of her sisters Lori Eidem, Marilyn Dukart, and Gladys Feind. "We have been to every MS walk since day one."

Working towards a goal to end multiple sclerosis forever, more than 300 participants gathered for the annual Walk MS, April 30 at Soldiers Field Park,in Rochester.

About $50,000 was raised to fund programs and research of the MS Society.

The walk in Rochester was one of 29 taking place that weekend within the upper Midwest chapter of the MS Society.

Pat Steiger, executive vice president of the chapter, said, "There has been so much progress in finding a cure, especially with progressive MS."

Joy Pietersis the new event coordinator for the local walk. A longtime volunteer of Walk MS and Bike MS in Virginia, Joy said she wanted to become the local coordinator because, "I know firsthand, as I was diagnosed 12 years ago with MS. The disease can be very deceiving; it can change at any moment."


Teams of walkers and volunteers began arriving well before the 10 a.m. start time to register and embrace friends and family in support.

Tom Shorehas volunteered his time at Walk MS each year since 1990. His wife Cindywas diagnosed in 1981, and passed away in 2011 at 53 years old.

"It's important for me to be here," he said. "Raising money to fund research, therapy programs, and support groups which are so helpful for those with MS."

The top fundraising team — Landoe's Bullriders — was a group of 20 friends and colleagues of Colleen Landon.

"I like the support of family and friends," she said. "And this year, we've brought the young ones — a new generation — and we're teaching them the importance of helping others."

The 20-member team Made to Survive was walking with Jane Masching, who was diagnosed with MS in 2009.

"It's hard in the beginning when you find out," she said. "But there are so many worse things. You just take it as it comes. It is what it is. Put one foot in front of the other day by day."

Team Tasha was the 25-member group of friends and family walking with Tasha Murray, diagnosed in 2015.


"This day is filled with awesome support," she said.

"The person we are walking for is a sister, daughter, mother," said Amy Koehn,whose team, Kitty's Litter, included more than 20 members. For many of them, it was their 14th year at Walk MS.

"It's an upbeat way to spend the day with family," added Kathy Illa.

Attendee Tom Poteruchasaid his daughter-in-law, Cassandra, created a PowerPoint presentation to raise money for Walk MS and to honor his wife, Terri, who was diagnosed in 2003.

"The hope was to raise $500.00," he said. "But we raised $2,200."

"Mom is a tough person," said the Poteruchas' son Andy. "She's had a lot to deal with."

Perry Jaeger, who attended with his wife, Sonya,and a group of 30 friends and family, said he has participated in two previous year's walks.

They were team So Be It. Jaeger explained that he shares his story of his experience with MS and always concludes with "so be it."


Jaeger was diagnosed five years ago, and he said that he has progressed from using one cane to two, then to a walker, and now, 97 percent of his time is in a wheelchair.

"I don't know if I will have the ability to come next year," he said.

"It's a very nasty disease. It takes things away you take for granted. It's unbelievable."

Sonya added, "We have to live day by day, as difficult as it is."

The National MS Society is working toward a world free of MS. For more information, visit .

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