one-day walks

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Making connections

Written by on June 13, 2012 at 1:09 pm

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.

Taking the first step

Written by on May 17, 2010 at 1:30 pm

As a first-time Challenge Walker, you'll want to have someone experienced by your side. For me, that experienced someone is my best friend and significant other, Ken, whose mother suffers from MS. Even though I've never participated in charity walks before, his passion for the cause is contagious, and this year I will happily be the second person of a two-person team, the MSchief Makers.

I relocated to Boston almost a year ago, right before the 2009 Challenge Walk — I wanted to participate, but having just moved halfway across the country and started my first year of graduate school the week before, the timing wasn't quite workable. But I swore to myself that I'd be a Challenge Walker in 2010, and now I'm registered and (almost) ready to walk!

I'm new to every part of this walk, so I'll be writing about my initial experiences with training, fundraising, networking … the works! Step one (as well as steps 2, 3, and on up through the thousands) occurred this weekend with my first-ever charity walk: a short, five-mile walk in Laconia, NH. Though Ken normally works the support crew from his bike in MS walks, it didn't take too much convincing to get him to join me on two feet for this trek.

Dylan the dog

Walkers and dogs alike turned out for Laconia's first one-day walk!

Of all the NMSS's one-day walks, this was the first one to be held in Laconia, and it was exciting to be part of a new event. It couldn't have been a more perfect day for a stroll, and there was a great turnout for a new walk (over 100 people … and a lot more dogs than I expected). We didn't spend too much time socializing with the other walkers, but there was something fascinating about knowing we were all here for the same reasons — there was a feeling of solidarity within the group, despite the fact that most of us didn't know one another. It was both unique and exciting to feel at home in a crowd of relative strangers simply because you share a common cause.

The walk itself was comfortable and refreshing, and I was happy to prove to myself that my body can do five miles fairly easily. I made good choices for shoes, socks, and apparel, but I should have been a little more careful when applying sunscreen: for someone with my winter pallor, two hours in direct sunlight will leave one a little singed. But I'll remember these things for my training walks over the summer — five miles is one thing, but 30 needs practice! This shorter walk proved to be an excellent kick-off for my involvement with the MS community, and I'm definitely excited about taking up the Challenge in September, but one thing is for sure: I need to do a lot of walking between now and then!

Kahmmie was a first-year walker in 2010 and had just started to get involved with the MS community, with the inspiration of her then significant other, Ken, this site's webmaster. She lived in the Boston area and attended graduate school full-time.

An invitation to one-day walks

Written by on April 9, 2010 at 2:19 pm

One-day walks logoFifty kilometers can seem like a vast undertaking — but it's easier to conceive and accomplish by breaking it into smaller chunks. Nobody who doesn't want the mother of all blisters walks 50K without having first walked many smaller distances.

A great way to begin this training and to experience what it means to be part of the larger NMSS walking community is to participate in a one-day walk. The Greater New England Chapter coordinates these three- to five-mile fundraising events events throughout Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine. In case you missed it in Kara's last update, there is no registration fee or fundraising minimum for Challenge Walkers — and even if you or your friends aren't registered yet, the fundraising is a modest $25.

The first one-day walks are being held this weekend, with plenty more occurring throughout April and May, and a final round in September. I'll be riding bicycle support in Worcester tomorrow and will be walking in Laconia next month. At these walks and all others, you'll find yourself surrounded and assisted by dedicated, grateful, and cheerful volunteers. See the full schedule and sign up today to begin the journey that is the MS Challenge Walk!

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.