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Antietam walkers do battle against MS

April 21, 2001

Antietam walkers do battle against MS



By MARLO BARNHART|

marlob@herald-mail.com

SHARPSBURG - Lori Harris has participated in all nine of Washington County's Multiple Sclerosis walks ... and she's got the T-shirts to prove it.

But Harris isn't in it for the wardrobe. She is determined to help raise awareness for the chronic, debilitating illness that has affected her mother, Donna Harris, for about 40 years.

Donna Harris, 62, believes she had the disease in the early 1960s but was misdiagnosed, her daughter said.

"She has the weakness, the lack of coordination, but she is doing as well as can be expected," said Lori Harris.

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Approximately 350 people signed up to walk the 6-mile course Saturday at Antietam National Battlefield.

MS Walk organizer Cheryl Scrivener said participation was nearly 100 percent this year - everyone who signed up, showed up.

"And the money is all in ... $31,000 pledged and $31,000 received," Scrivener said. "And I suspect between $5,000 and $6,000 more will come in the next few days."

The split is about 60/40, with the most money going to research into the cure of the illness, which attacks the central nervous system.

The rest goes to fund services, transportation and equipment loans, among other expenses.

"This fund-raiser is vital to what I do," said Melanie Sutula, program coordinator for the MS regional office in Frederick, Md.

Sutula and that office provide services to MS sufferers in Carroll County and all counties west. Sutula can be reached at 301-791-2776, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

About a dozen employees of three Martin's supermarkets in Washington County gathered pledges and walked Saturday. Among them were Carmen Carpenter, a first-time walker.

"I just wanted to do it, and Martin's is one of the sponsors," Carpenter said.

Krista Forsyth, team captain of the Wesel Boulevard Martin's, said she likes to walk and she brought some family members along.

Rodney and Connie Cline had strong personal reasons for volunteering for the first time this year.

"Our 32-year-old daughter, Jennifer Poffenberger, was diagnosed last year with MS," said Connie Cline. "It's a slight case and she is on medication and walking, but still ..."

Scrivener was pleased with the turnout and the pledges, but she knows that is a bittersweet victory.

"MS is becoming more prevalent, sadly, so more people are getting involved," she said.

Scrivener began volunteering because her husband contracted the illness. This past Christmas, his younger sister was diagnosed with MS.

"Getting involved is less of an effort for those of us who are affected by this illness," Scrivener said.

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