The walkers and crew that constitute the MS Challenge Walk are challenged every day to help their spouses, siblings, parents, and children cope with MS. Everyone wants to do something, but not everyone knows what to do.
It must've been kismet that, just a few days later, Paige Magratten of Team Paige wrote in to tell us about her daughter:
Paige and Colby have given permission for Colby's poem, "The Light of Hope", to be shared here.
Colby is 14 and has participated in the walk since she was 6. The MS Challenge Walk has had a tremendous effect on growing up having a mom with MS. Thanks to the walk, she associates MS not with fear, but joy and activism.
Every year, Colby helps prepare our letters with stickers, rubber stamping, and addressing. At the walk itself, she has been giving out chocolate-chip granola bars and stickers with Crew 3 since she was 8. She has seen the outpouring of love and support for her mom and so many others with MS. And she LOVES the candle lighting ceremony — no matter how tired the team is, she rallies the gang to go on Saturday night.
When her school gave her a poetry assignment, she knew she wanted to write it about the MS Challenge Walk. She gave me a draft to proofread for spelling, and it caught me by such surprise that the tears just started to flow. When she read the poem in front of the class, her teacher was so taken by it she had Colby read it a second time. I decided to include Colby's poem in our letters this year. The notes that have come back with the checks are proof that her words don't bring just me to tears.
I hold a newly lit candle in my hand,
Hiding it from the wind.
I did not start the light.
I hold a shared flame that started from a single match.
The light spreads from wick to wick,
'Til we raise our candles up,
And the wind turns our light to darkness.
I am reminded of why I am here.
For in moments of true happiness,
Everyone around me is here for one reason,
But I am here for another.
To wish that it will never end.
A friend goes up to the podium
To tell her story.
The story I know far too well.
Outside friends shed tears,
While I try to hide my own.
She needed help,
So then I stood next to her and helped her conquer fear.
We are a family of strangers
With a common goal: "hope".
How they do it? I do not know.
I recall a small trail of smoke from a single candle,
That reminds me that it has to end.
I do not know when but that step will be taken.
Thank you, Colby, for reminding us of all the different ways we can contribute toward a world free from MS.
Ken, a Framingham resident, joined the MS Challenge Walk in 2005, more than a decade after his mother was diagnosed. After walking for three years and 150 miles, he switched to the support crew and now rides his bicycle along the trail, providing whatever encouragement (and snacks!) he can to the 600 walkers. He is also on the event's steering committee and is this site's webmaster.