LONG POND-March is Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Month. For Megan Spaulding, MS is personal. She was diagnosed with MS in January of 2013.

LONG POND-March is Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Month. For Megan Spaulding, MS is personal. She was diagnosed with MS in January of 2013.

She is the daughter of Rob and Karla Grimm, of Waymart.

On March 17, Honesdale Mayor Ed Langendoerfer declared March as MS Awareness Month, encouraging everyone to raise public awareness of MS.

Living with MS

Spaulding said after she was diagnosed it was a very difficult time for her family, including her husband and children.

MS is an immune-mediated process in which “an abnormal response of the body's immune system is directed against the Central Nervous System, which is made up of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves,” according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS).

Symptoms associated with MS include blurred vision, loss of balance, poor coordination, slurred speech, tremors, numbness, extreme fatigue, problems with memory and concentration, paralysis and blindness.

The NMSS states these problems may come and go and they can also persist and worsen over time.

“We have decided to be proactive in the fight against this disease and through the grace of God, we are taking on this challenge together,” she said.

Together, Spaulding and her family formed a team at the Walk MS at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, called M.S. Warriors.

“We started going to the walk because of my diagnosis,” she stated.

Spaulding is the third generation in her family to have MS.

“I do it mainly to raise awareness so other people know there is help out there and research is being done,” she explained. “Personally I do it because I think there are so many stories out there.”

She stated there are people with MS who aren't aware and are afraid to share their stories.

“Once you open up that door, you find the impact is made on others,” Spaulding said. “People need to hear your story to have a positive impact on themselves.”

She added it's easier to be discouraged by the negative outcomes that can be seen from MS, but stated it's important to keep a positive attitude.

She also said it's good knowing there are groups that are working to help people with MS. They just need funding so they can accomplish their goal easier.

“That's why we do what we do,” Spaulding said. “I've had the support from my family and friends, so that's definitely a plus.

“That's another reason I do this. There are others who don't have that support and need it. They need to know there's help and people who are willing to share their story.

“They can be that little bit of light when you feel like you have nowhere to go.”

Who can get MS?

According to the NMSS, most people are diagnosed with MS between 20 and 50, though “individuals as young as two and as old as 75” have developed it as well.

The condition doesn't discriminate, although “two to three times” as many women develop MS as men. The NMSS stated the gender difference has been increasing over the last 50 years.

While there is no known cure, studies suggest genetic risk factors “increase the risk of developing MS,” although there isn't any evidence to prove MS is directly inherited.

The NMSS said more than 2.3 million people are affected by MS worldwide.

It also states “in general,” MS isn't considered to be fatal and most people have a “normal or near-normal life expectancy.”

In “fairly rare cases,” complications of MS can shorten life, however.

MS Walk

The walk that takes place at Pocono Raceway is one of 14 walk sites hosted by the Greater Delaware Valley Chapter.

Spaulding said because of the support for her team, they raised a total of $35,682 in just three months, making the total amount raised at the Pocono Raceway walk site $71,568.

“It was a record breaking year for this walk site,” she said. “I was also notified by the National MS Society that our team raised more than any other team across all 14 walk sites.”

The MS walk in 2013 was her team's first year participating in the walk, but Spaulding stated it's just the beginning.

“It showed to be such a success that we are already teaming up with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society for the walk again this year at the Pocono Raceway which will be held on Sunday, May 4,” she said. “Your donation supports critical funds to support local programs and cutting-edge research.

“Your donation puts us closer to realizing our promise to stop MS in its tracks, restore lost function and end MS forever.

“Ending MS means no one will receive an MS diagnosis again. Every step matters and every dollar counts. Every person makes a difference.”

For more information please visit www.walk4ms.org. If you are interested in joining our team as a walker or continuing your financial contributions towards our 2014 fundraising efforts please feel free to contact Spaulding at mspaulding@cwgrimm.com.

For more information on MS you can also visit www.nationalmssociety.org.