For the past two months, I have been sitting down with veterans of MS Challenge Walk and asking them to tell me their stories. Ostensibly, the reason for these interviews is to produce MS Challenge Talk, a weekly audio recording that allows anyone within or without our community to learn more about its members.
In actuality, the podcast is an excuse for me to do what I love most: make connections.
When my mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1990, all we saw ahead of us was struggle. We knew that what started as a slight unsteadiness on her feet could someday become something far worse, closing her off from the rest of her life and her world.
What none of us saw was the connections we would make with others who were fighting this same battle. Through our involvement with MS Challenge Walk, we have made new friends, been supported by old ones, and gained more perspective than we knew was possible.
MS Challenge Talk is my own personal connection accelerator. Heroes who I've seen only briefly on the walk, in a context that lets me get to know them only in passing, are now inviting me into their lives and their homes and sharing with me the most intimate details of their hopes and fears. Every time, I come away awed and humbled — and having made a new friend and a stronger connection to the cause.
MS Challenge Talk begins with MS Challenge Walk. The walk isn't just to find a cure; taking the pledge to walk three days and 50 miles makes you the cure.
Thank you to everyone who is walking with me — and to everyone who is talking to me. Wherever it is we're going, we'll make it … together.
Ken, an Arlington 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 an alumnus of the event's steering committee and is this site's webmaster.