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World MS Day: A thousand ways to raise hope for MS

27 May 2015

Boats, bikes, mountains, weights and tutus — say what?

Can you guess what connects these disparate events and splendid people?

At this very moment Andrew Potter is aboard the Oceans of Hope, a 67 foot sailing boat circumnavigating the globe.

Last weekend Justine Martin from Victoria won her category of the Victorian Masters Weightlifting Championships.

Lionel Warrington is atop a thumping motorbike riding from Brisbane to Hobart.

In Perth, a West Coast Eagle and a Perth Wildcat are rattling the can in the Murray St Mall.

Angela Kostelis’s husband will shortly don a red tutu and lipstick for a full day at work.

Tony King is preparing for a trek to the top of Mount Everest.

And 12-year-old Forest Lake boy Seimon Thomas is one of nearly 10,000 people participating in the Brissie to Bay ride, this year the largest bike ride in Queensland history.

Any luck joining the dots between boats, motorbikes, eagles, wildcats, mountains, weightlifting, 10,000 cyclists and a tutu?

In fairness, it’s a tough question. After all it’s a collection of the wonderful, the dangerous, the slightly different and the entirely inspirational.

The answer is these are fellow travellers who are either demonstrating what people with multiple sclerosis can achieve or raising awareness and funds for the May 27 World MS Day. A day when all over the world, people with MS, their families and friends celebrate their achievements, promote awareness of their challenges and raise funds for their dream: a world without MS.

MS is caused by scars forming when cells in the body’s own immune system enter the central nervous system causing inflammation to the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. The term ‘sclerosis’ is a Greek word meaning ‘hardened scars’.

People with MS experience the disease in different ways. No two cases are the same.

While there is no one symptom, in general terms, symptoms can be muscular spasms, problems with coordination, balance and functioning of the arms and legs, fatigue and heat sensitivity, vertigo, pins and needles, neuralgia and visual disturbances, memory loss, depression and cognitive difficulties.

Every year another 1,000 Australians are diagnosed, most of them aged between 20 and 40, and despite great advances in treatment and care, it remains a disease without a cure.

Without a cure at the moment…Yes. Without hope…absolutely not.

Because what is largely unknown is the fact that medical research of the kind being done by MS Research Australia is steadily and methodically making progress.

Events that attract attention to the fight against MS, to the vital importance of raising research funding, of the need for better access to services and to the immense tests that people with MS and their families have to pass each and every day.

And so on behalf of these 23,000 inspirational Australians I urge you to get involved in World MS Day. There are events all over the country and opportunities to contribute to the cause.

Go to our website at MS Australia and find out how you can get involved through us or through the state and territory based MS Society.

Channel the inspiration of Andrew, Justine, Lionel, Angela and her husband, of Justine, Tony, Seimon, and of Carole as they and the scientific community push and push hard towards a world without MS.

Debra Cerasa
CEO of MS Australia