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Lee: Support Hawkeyes for MS

BY ASHLEY LEE | OCTOBER 08, 2014 5:00 AM

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My grandmother had multiple sclerosis. It was a daily, hourly battle that unfortunately took her life.

We never met. As any disease, I knew hers was a misfortune. Still, I had never given much thought to the illness other than the times my parents shared the memories they had with her.

But my outlook on multiple sclerosis has changed, as I am much more aware of the disease, thanks to the organizers behind “Hawkeyes for MS.”

Multiple sclerosis is a physically debilitating neurologica disease that affects the brain and spinal cord, often resulting in overwhelming fatigue, visual disturbances, altered sensation, and difficulties with mobility. It can sometimes lead to paralysis.

According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, more than 2.3 million people are affected by MS worldwide. The majority of people diagnosed with MS are between the ages of 20 and 50, though it has developed in individuals ages 2 to 75.

Similar to the University of Iowa Dance Marathon — in which dancers and participants raise money to assist with families and children who are affected by pediatric cancer — “Hawkeyes for MS” is an event alongside the Swim for MS Organization in which community members can show up, swim, help fund, and support individuals with MS and families affected by the disease.

The “Hawkeyes for MS” event was started by University of Iowa students Michael Lau, Chitoka Webb, and Korey Schneider. It seeks to educate the general public about matters relating to multiple sclerosis and to raise money to find a cure.

I applaud the efforts made by my fellow Hawkeyes, as there should be greater attempts both nationally and locally to raise money to find a cure for MS.

Lau, whose mother has MS, was inspired to organize and participant as a swimmer in the event once he saw how much MS affected his mother’s day-to-day life. He and his family lived by the motto “Mind over matter,” in which they believed that through the mind, one can overcome an obstacle.
“But with MS,” Lau said, “the mind is the matter.”

Events such as “Hawkeyes for MS” — which provide fundraising opportunities, greater public outreach, and educational awareness — are important not only because funding more research and finding a cure for the disease will save lives but because we must do our part in supporting and helping to alleviate the emotional stress and financial responsibilities that coincide with the reality of both living with MS and being afflicted by it. Through solidarity and communal involvement, individuals and families with MS can see that they are not alone.

It is through this particular event that career businesswoman, author, student, and swim-team participant Webb said, “Somebody will know a little more about MS than yesterday.”

I urge UI students, faculty, and community members to participate and learn more about this initiative.

“Hawkeyes for MS” will take place on Oct. 25 at the University of Iowa’s Campus Recreation & Wellness Center. From noon until 8 p.m., people can either make a small donation to help raise $25,000 for the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America, donate and swim, or sponsor a swimmer.

Visit the team page and like the organization on Facebook. Contact chloe-matthews@uiowa.edu for any questions.

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