The National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society is the No. 1 funder of MS research in the world with a current fiscal year 2018 target of $34 million in research investment. Until this past year, the organization was broken down into chapters across the U.S. with local focuses. But today that has changed to a more national approach.
“Instead of 36 budgets, we have one budget and one clear vision for every chapter,” said David Haddock, Mid-South chapter president. “It’s helped us attack the disease in a more cohesive and unified way. Our mission is for people with MS to live their best lives. We ensure people have the information, support and research they need to address the challenges of living with MS through our MS Navigator program. We also want to stop MS in its tracks and stop the damage that’s been done. That’s why we invest so much money in funding research and life-changing breakthroughs.”
The research is to fuel treatments and solutions that will lead to finding a cure for MS, an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. The cause of MS is unknown; scientists believe it’s triggered by an unidentified environmental factor in a person who is genetically predisposed to respond. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men diagnosed. MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide.
MS is a central nervous system disease where the person’s body attacks nerves to the point the body no longer sends signals. MS often is called an invisible disease because it’s not something that’s typically recognizable to others unless the person uses walking assistance or is in a wheelchair. But while it’s difficult to recognize a person with MS, that person could be dealing with chronic pain, fatigue, numbness, and dizziness. Eighty percent of MS patients have relapsing-remitting MS, meaning they have random attacks that can be once every five years or as frequent as every couple of months; and it often depends on if that person is on a therapy to manage the disease.
Thanks to research and medical advancements, there are now 16 therapies to treat MS and slow its progression. A couple of decades ago there was no way to stop the disease progression, so research has accelerated breakthroughs leading to new innovations in treatments, wellness and rehabilitation approaches, and the identification of MS triggers, leading to a better understanding of the causes and prevention of MS. The MS Navigator can be accessed from 8am-6pm (CST) by calling1-800-344-4867 or ContactUsNMSS@nmss.org to help with access to care issues, treatment strategies, and more.
Many of the National MS Society’s fundraisers are tied to inspirational activities, like a walk or bicycle ride, including in Memphis. The Bike MS: FedEx Rockin’ Ride 2018 will be held Sept. 8-9. Riders will depart from Landers Center in Southaven, Mississippi and travel 31, 42 or 75 miles of scenic country roads to Gold Strike Resort & Casino in Tunica. This year’s addition of a shorter, 31-mile course, means the event is as perfect for families and recreational bikers, as it is for the more accomplished cyclists.
Signing up to participate in this year’s ride is one way to contribute to the National MS Society’s efforts. Volunteers are important for the success of the ride and other fundraising events in the community throughout the year, as well. For more information visit nationalMSsociety.org.
photo courtesy of Memphis Cyclist
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