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Walking the walk for a cure for MS

Tillie Fischer wants to put Priscilla Mangnall out of a job ” but Mangnall doesn’t mind.

The two helped organize the 16th annual MS Walk on May 14 in Glenwood Canyon as more than 350 participants raised approximately $50,000 to fight MS.

Every hour of every day someone is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a disease which affects the central nervous system and eats away the myelin coating of the nerves. It is a slow, incurable killer, and once you have it, you have it forever.



“People get it in varying degrees ” part of managing the disease is getting educated about it,” said Priscilla Mangnall, who is the Western Slope development coordinator for the National MS Society.

Symptoms of MS differ for everyone. One person may experience severe vision problems; another may have abnormal tiredness or loss of balance and muscle coordination, while others experience slurred speech, tremors or stiffness.



“It’s a terribly individual disease,” said event co-organizer Tillie Fischer, whose 40-year-old son George, has MS. The Fischers, along with 50,000 other families, are participants in a program at the University of Southern California that studies the families of MS patients to see if there is a genetic predisposition.

While the cause of MS is unknown, scientists know of three factors involved. Since statistics show that 73 percent of MS victims are women, gender plays a role. They also believe there is an environmental link since most people who have MS are of Northern European heritage and live in northern latitudes. While MS is not hereditary, research shows that there is genetic connection, and scientists are now trying to identify those markers.

“It’s hard to cure something when you don’t know what causes it,” said Denver nurse Amy Burkett, who was on hand to answer questions about MS drug therapy.

But new research and development looks promising.

“We’ve identified 80 genes that seemed to be common in people with MS,” said Beth Krauss, who is a sales representative for an MS drug called Rebif. Because MS can cause rapid deterioration, Rebif can delay the progression of disability, reduce the frequency of relapses and reduce lesion activity.

While the MS Society works to find a cure, the group continues to find drug therapy that can increase the comfort for someone who must live with the disease.

“One day, we will get a cure,” Fischer said. And when that day comes Mangnall will be out of a job.

Until then, they will walk on.

Some of the members from the Team at Bank of Colorado, from left, Eileen Lanuto, of Glenwood, works at Bank of Colorado; Mariah Lanuto, 12, of Glenwood, is in seventh grade at Glenwood Springs Middle School, and Vanessa Lanuto, of Glenwood, works at Bank of Colorado.

Team No Bags, from left, Kiwanis member Rolf Hermanson is a financial representative for Thrivent Financial; Shelby Malehorn, 11, is in fifth grade at Glenwood Springs Elementary; Polly Malehorn rode her hand-propelled bike; and Dave Malehorn owns Professional Autobody. They all live in Glenwood.

Kathy Kopf, left, of No Name, is a nurse at Valley View Hospital, and Edgar Davidson, of No Name, is an artist.

The Flink family of Basalt, clockwise from left, Matt is a builder; Erin is a Realtor; Sherman the pug is training to be a therapy dog; John, 4, is in preschool; and Hannah, 7, attends Basalt Elementary.

The team from Glenwood Insurance, from left, Cheryl Sos, Lisa Stroder, Christy Wohletz, and Angie Sampels, all of Glenwood; T.J. Troxel and Connie Mellin, of Carbondale; and Dayna Spencer, of Glenwood.

Team Dem Bones sponsored by Orthopaedic Associates, from left, Vicki Dewey, of Silt, Dan Peterson, of Glenwood, Jenn Harvey, of Rifle, Ginger Klima, of Rifle, and Jan Triebel, of Glenwood.

First to cross the finish line, Justin Bosco, left, 8, of Glenwood, is in second grade at St. Stephen’s Catholic School, and Daniel Keefer, 10, of Denver, is in fourth grade at Coronado Elementary.

Voula Sauer, of Rifle, is a merchandiser, and Mike Santos, of Gypsum, is a clerk.


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