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The guilt made her do it

Written by on July 29, 2015 at 10:04 am

Beth Keough of Franklin, Massachusetts, didn't set out to walk fifty miles on Cape Cod last fall because she needed the exercise, wanted the blisters, or even because she was raising money to find a cure for a disease she lives with every day — no, she did it out of guilt.

"I was tired of the guilt trips," she laughed.

The guilt trips were from her brother Tom Keough of Milford. Tom had been taking part in Challenge Walk MS on Cape Cod for five years and wanted his sister to join him. Challenge Walk MS is a three-day, 50-mile walk on Cape Cod that raises money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Beth was diagnosed with MS in 2006.

"I had difficulty walking," she remembered. "I thought it was just a pinched nerve."

Not long after Beth's diagnosis, Tom began participating in the 50-mile walk. Each year he would invite his sister to join him. Her schedule didn't allow her to do so — until last year.

"I always wanted to do it," said Beth. "I had gone to the Saturday night (candlelight) program, and it was such an inspiring thing to see."

Last year, it worked out she could train for and participate in Challenge.

"I decided I would sign up for it — and I was very glad I did."

Not that it was easy: just finding the time to do the long training walks was challenging to say the least.

"It was very difficult, but I did what I could," said Beth. "I definitely wish I had trained more. I did 33 miles (of the 50); it was definitely hard but I pushed through and did what I could."

For big brother Tom, it was great having his sister walking with him.

"It was fun having her out there, trading sarcastic comments and barbs, with her always making sure to keep me humble," he laughed. "I was also very proud at the way she pushed herself past pain and mental hurdles to go farther than she even thought she could. After some stumbles over previous years, it was awesome to see that the changes in treatment were working for her and helping her physically. It gave me a boost, knowing that they are making progress and it's a battle worth fighting. Today, we can walk together for everyone fighting the disease.

The guilt for Beth is gone — replaced by something else.

"A different emotion for me — pride."

Eileen is a Media Relations Specialist for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Greater New England Chapter.

Brother walks for sister with MS

Written by on July 27, 2015 at 10:03 am

When Tom Keough's sister Beth was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2006, he admits, he felt helpless and initially handled it poorly.

In an effort to do something positive, the Milford resident signed up for a one-day Walk MS in Worcester. He was immediately inspired by all the people he met, walking and working to find a cure for the disease affecting his sister.

Then Tom heard from a friend about the Challenge Walk MS on Cape Cod, a three-day, 50-mile journey to end MS forever. He immediately joined the friend's team, Bonnie's Believers.

"I jumped on board and started looking at different ways I could fundraise for the cause," said Tom. "Meeting so many amazing people along the way has only fueled my passion, and I walk for them as much as for Beth now."

Last year was Tom's sixth Challenge Walk MS, and the first time his sister Beth could join him.

"I was really excited to have her there to experience it as a walker and to meet others who understand what she is going through," said Tom. "Since I started walking, our family has always made Challenge Walk weekend an important time of year and it was cool that she could see it from start to finish. "

Beth and Tom will walk together again in this year's walk. Tom has high hopes for the weekend and beyond.

"My hope is to meet new friends to inspire us and reconnect with old friends who are stronger than they were before, whose treatments have been successful in controlling the disease's effects," he said.

"For my baby sister, I hope that she will continue to push her limits and know that her brother has her back, no matter what she wants to do in life. I hope that we can one day celebrate a cure and know that we were a part of making that happen."

Eileen is a Media Relations Specialist for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Greater New England Chapter.

Botox for MS: Not your usual fundraiser

Written by on September 3, 2014 at 9:00 am

When you're a dermatologist and your beloved sister gets multiple sclerosis, what do you do?

If you're Dr. Jim Campbell, you give out free units of Botox(TM) for a donation to the National MS Society.

"It's a complete win for everybody," said Campbell.

The Dover, NH, dermatologist held four of these "unusual" fundraisers recently at his business, Dermatology and Skin Health. The money raised went to his team, Minion Milers, in the upcoming MS Challenge Walk on Cape Cod.

Campbell said the idea for the fundraiser came out of a "fatigue" for fundraisers.

"We do so many fundraisers [each year]. You hate asking [people] every five minutes for money," he said.

So, Campbell thought, why not give people what they are looking for at a reduced price, in exchange for money that will help people with MS? He got his distributors to donate the product, and he and his staff donated their time; that way, all the money raised went to help people with MS.

Jim Campbell

Jim Campbell (center) with two of his teammates.

Campbell said it wasn't a difficult to get distributors to give him the product for free.

"I do enough business with them," he said laughing.

At each of the fundraisers, people lined up for the chance to save about $100–$150 off the usual cost of the wrinkle treatment. It was a huge success! Campbell raised between $2,000 and $3,000 dollars each night, bringing his team total to more than $20,000.

For Campbell, it's a chance to use his professional skills to help his sister and others who live with this disease that has no known cause or cure.

"I have the opportunity to do this and that makes me feel good," said Campbell.

Eileen is a Media Relations Specialist for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Greater New England Chapter.

MS has given him more than it's taken

Written by on September 2, 2014 at 3:57 pm

Tom Olafsson of Brookline considers himself a very lucky man — despite the fact he has an incurable disease that has required him to have more than 8,000 injections over the past decade.

"Overall, I am a lucky one. I am doing okay," said Olafsson.

Tom has multiple sclerosis. He was diagnosed with the unpredictable and often disabling disease in 2004. MS has affected his vision and balance, but overall, Tom feels he's been able to manage his MS.

"I made sure to fight once the initial diagnosis was digested," he recalled. "I got in better shape. I eat better… I have MS but I will continue to battle the best I can."

Nine years ago, he heard about the MS Challenge Walk on Cape Cod: 50 miles over three days. He and his wife Louise signed up. "At the time I felt stuck in my own body and thought the walk would be good for me to do. That is now quite an understatement," he said.

Tom and his wife said the experience seeing hundreds of people walking in support of people with MS "blew them away." Since then, more and more family members have joined their team.

This weekend, Tommy's Team will take part in the 13th annual MS Challenge Walk on Cape Cod — and with every step, Olafsson will count his blessings.

He has the love and support of his wife of nearly 27 years; he has four terrific daughters, one of whom is flying from her home in Spain to walk Challenge; and he sees the positive in everything, including his MS.

Tom Olafsson

Tom Olafsson with his wife Louise and one of their four daughters.


"MS has given me more than it has taken away. All those walkers have given me so much. Seeing all the people … on Sunday makes me want to thank each and every one of them.

Truly, a lucky man.

Eileen is a Media Relations Specialist for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Greater New England Chapter.

Walking together: A family affair

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

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.

When superheroes walk

Written by on July 28, 2014 at 4:56 pm

Sarah Jacoby of South Hero, Vermont, is very open about her multiple sclerosis — but when it comes to her blisters, she hides them like a teenager with a pimple on prom night.

"I don't show them to the medical team because I'm afraid they'll tell me I can't walk!" exclaimed Jacoby.

By walk, she means taking part in the three-day, 50-mile Walk MS: Cape Cod Challenge.

"You gotta be a little crazy to do this to yourself, but it's worth it!"

Despite having MS, an often times disabling disease, and pushing 70 years old, Jacoby has walked the Cape Cod Challenge every year since its inception in 2002. That first year, she walked as an individual, but over the years her family and friends have joined her.

"I had family members that came down [to the Cape] to watch everybody walk in [to the finish] and they got hooked with that," she said.

Now, her team, MS Action Heroes, is 15 members strong and includes Sarah's grand-niece and grand-nephew. Also joining her is her friend Bonnie, who also lives with MS. The team has raised a total of nearly $80,000 to fund research and services for people with MS, like Sarah.

"I think the big thing [for me] is raising money for the research. I think that's so important. There are so many people worse off than I am with it, so I hope someday we find a cure."

This September 5–7, Sarah and her team will join hundreds of other people in Walk MS: Cape Cod Challenge Walk 2014, sponsored by EMD Serono/Pfizer. It begins and ends in Hyannis. Learn more about Challenge or to make a donation online.

Sarah will be a featured speaker at the program Saturday night (Sep 6) that accompanies a Candlelight Vigil for Hope with people with MS.

Sarah admits she's a bit behind in her training this year because she spent 11 days in the hospital this spring with a problem with her appendix, but she's fought through monster blisters —so a little surgery won't keep her from taking on the Challenge.

Eileen is a Media Relations Specialist for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Greater New England Chapter.