When Patty Seaburg of Littleton, MA, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at the age of 29, she turned to her boyfriend right then and there in the hospital and gave him an out.
"I told him… you can get out at any time—you don't have to do this," she recalled.
How did Mark, her high school sweetheart, respond?
"He basically told me I was crazy."
That was three years ago, and they have just celebrated their one year wedding anniversary. Mark proposed to Patty a couple days after they completed their first Cape Cod Challenge Walk in September 2012.
"It meant more that he did it after I was diagnosed," she said.
MS didn't keep the couple from celebrating their love and getting married, and it isn't keeping them from taking part in their third Challenge Walk together, September 5–7.Patty said it's truly a "family affair" with her mom, one of her sisters, and her sister-in-law walking with her and Mark team The Walka Walka Walkahs! Another sister holds a huge fundraiser each year for their team, while still another sister is part of the volunteer crew that supports the walk. Her brother helps with the fundraising events, and her father, whom she calls her "rock", has volunteered as well.
All this family support is vital to get her through the challenge of walking 50 miles over the course of three days.
"It means everything to me," she said. "It's amazing and makes me feel loved."
Patty's commitment to the cause has grown beyond subjecting her feet to the rigors of the walk; she's also joined the Challenge Walk Steering Committee, helping to plan this huge event.
"She's very dedicated to making this event a success," said Aileen Callahan, Development Manager for Greater New England chapter of the National MS Society.
Patty said seeing hundreds of other walkers taking on the Challenge, many of them also living with MS, bolsters her spirits.
"It's uplifting… It makes you feel not as alone."
Patty will never be alone, not with a husband who never flinched, and a family determined to stand and walk beside her.
Eileen is a Media Relations Specialist for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Greater New England Chapter.