Meet your neighbors: The MS Walk WTF (Welcome to Fruita) Squad
Special to the Free Press
Editor’s note: Denise met with Angie Ballegeer and Mark Angelo, Captains of the WTF Squad, and Suzie Reel, Community Outreach Coordinator of the Grand Junction office of the National MS Society Colorado: Wyoming Chapter. Angie, the special events supervisor for the City of Fruita, and Mark, the City of Fruita code enforcement officer, were both diagnosed with MS in 2013.
Denise: What is the WTF Squad?
Mark: The WTF Squad is our team name for the MS Walk. WTF stands for “Welcome to Fruita,” and most of the team members have a connection to Fruita as well as a connection to MS.
Angie: The WTF Squad is raising money for MS research and programs through our walk team. This means raising awareness of MS, connecting with others who have MS, and showing our overall support for everyone who has MS.
Denise: Tell me about the MS Walk.
Suzie: Walk MS is the biggest fundraiser for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society here on the Western Slope. It takes place in communities all around the country. The Grand Junction Walk takes place Saturday, May 2, at Canyon View Park. Registration starts at 7:30 a.m. and the Walk starts at 9 a.m. Last year, about 400 walkers and 50 volunteers took part in the Grand Junction Walk.
Denise: How can someone participate?
Suzie: Go online to http://www.walkMScolorado.org to register. Type in “The WTF Squad” to join the Fruita team or you can walk on your own. Registration is free, but we encourage fundraising. If you are not able to attend the event, you can still make a donation.
Denise: What is your fundraising goal?
Mark: Last year our team raised over $3,000, and our goal this year is $4,000. Donations can be made online at the MS Society website, or I can be contacted at work at 970-858-0873. We would also like to thank the following businesses in Fruita that have donated funds to our team, including Munchies Pizza, Rib City, Suds Brothers, Camilla’s Kaffe, Go-Fer, Feedlot, Copper Club, Judy’s Family Restaurant, and Aspen Street Coffee. Another local business that is helping out is the Walgreens in Fruita; they are donating shirts to the WTF Squad team members.
Angie: The donations can be small or large, whatever you can afford. Everything helps, and it all adds up.
Denise: Where does the money go?
Suzie: 81 percent of the funds raised by the National MS Society at the walks and other fundraising events go to research and programs. Due to our fundraising efforts, studies have been conducted into the causes of MS, treatments have been developed, and we are able to offer support and services to those with MS. Only three percent goes to administrative costs.
Denise: How did you get involved in the MS Walk?
Angie: I was diagnosed with MS in 2013 after several years of experiencing symptoms including numbness and tingling. Mark was the Fruita Police Chief at the time, and had been diagnosed a few months before. I sought him out to talk about MS, and we decided to form a team for the 2014 Walk. We have been fundraising and raising awareness about MS ever since. Mark has been a huge blessing in my life. He is the reason I can wake up every day and go to work because I know he is going through the same thing; and yet he is always smiling and keeping a positive attitude.
Denise Hight is co-author of Images of America: Fruita, which was published by Arcadia Publishing in 2011. She is currently working on another book for Arcadia, Legendary Locals of Fruita, which will be published in 2016. She can be reached at email@example.com. Denise’s husband, Steve, was diagnosed with MS in 1998.
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