Walking together: A family affair

Written by on August 20, 2014 at 8:27 am

For Patty Seaburg, undertaking the MS Challenge Walk is a family affair.

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 Seaburg

Patty and Mark took the challenge—together.

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.

6 Comments so far ↓

  1. Linda Miller says:

    It's hard to believe it's 3 years already that Patty was diagnosed with MS. She is truly my hero in how she deals with her illness. I know that Mark will always be there for her. She is blessed to have so many friends and family who love and support her. Together we all hope that one day there will be a cure. I love the Walka, Walka, Walkahs that are an amazing group.

  2. Hi Patty, I know deep down that you can conquer ANYTHING Life brings your way. I know I have. I've had Breast CA diagnosed in 2008 (Left Breast); now they are watching my (Right) Breast because of things they've seen on past Mammograms and Ultrasounds. I also have Multiple Sclerosis, diagnosed in 2001, but had it about 20 years prior to being diagnosed. THANK GOD my physician, who just retired from the Brigham & Women's Hosptial, NEVER GAVE UP on me. He knew I had something but he really didn't want to put a name to it until some of the diagnostic tests came back positive. As well as all the other symptoms I have: numbness and tingling in my extremities, cognitive issues, bladder issues (need to have Botox Surgery every 6-7 months, which is done by my Urologist at the Brigham & Women's Hospital), extreme fatigue and balance issues. I'll be walking with a cane during the walk because I don't want to fall down. I tend to fall to one side by walking into walls, tripping, and even falling while walking up stairs. Anyway, OUR FAITH AND OUR WILL to RAISE FUNDS to hopefully, find a Cure for MS will keep us going. DON'T EVER GIVE UP AND KEEP SMILING!! See you at the Walk!! – Paula B. –

  3. Donn hockman says:

    Patty – your story is another source of both inspiration and commitment for all of us with MS. The constant and continued support your family provides is heartwarming. As a family, we understand how crucial this support is.
    Diagnosed with MS in '98 and a cancer survivor in '08, I know that I would not be here without my family's support over these 16 years.
    My team, Donn's Sole Patrol, consists of my wife, son, daughter, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, niece and close friends.
    One of my favorite sayings has been: "Life is not measured be the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away". The MS Challenge Walk is one of those moments deformed me and, I hope, for you.
    see you at Hyannis!

  4. Edna Mercado says:

    Patty you know we all you and will always be there for you. Keep up the good work.
    Grandpa & Granny

  5. Donn Hockman says:

    in my previous email, in closing I meant to say that the Challenge Walk is one of those moments FOR me …..
    I don't have a clue where 'deformed' came from – perhaps another senior ms moment! Wanted to clear this up.