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Challenge friends

Written by on August 12, 2009 at 1:10 pm

Hard to believe that we have only a month to go!  I can tell that the Walk is coming up soon: things are starting to ramp up more and more each day. I've been going back and forth with other crew members on what costumes they are wearing, if we have costumes to share, and the other fun items we may be bringing along.  I'm getting excited!

Although the primary focus of the Walk is to raise money to help defeat MS, it is so much more.  It helps bring people with a common goal together, and the friendships that result are long-lasting and fulfilling.  The year of the first MS Challenge Walk Walk, I went to the kick-off celebration.  I really didn't know many people there and was hanging out by the wall while different things were being explained and discussed by staff members.  Not too far from me was another girl, Brandy, who looked about as uncomfortable as I felt. She too was there by herself and didn't know anyone.  We started talking, and I asked her where she was staying the night before the walk.  Back then, the walk started in Plymouth, and she was planning on driving in from north of  Boston.  I didn't like the sound of that and, trusting person that I am, asked her to come stay at my house and we would drive over together in the AM.  I know she was a complete stranger, but all these years later, we are still good friends, and she danced at my wedding not that long ago.  And we still bunk together every year!

Those are the types of friends you will make at this event: Friends you want to share the other big events in your life with.  Friends who are there for you and understand why you are fighting the fight.  That is because they are right there fighting alongside you.

Jill lives in East Taunton with her husband and a very annoying cat. She was diagnosed with MS in 1998 when she was 24. She has been participating in the Challenge Walk since the beginning as a crew member and can also be found at many other fundraising events.

Starting the crew experience — in a van

Written by on June 1, 2009 at 11:34 am

Somehow, I have become the driver of the crew van for my crew. I've been driving since that first year when we were all still trying to figure out how to manage this great new event, the MS Challenge Walk. A fifteen-passenger van filled with strangers seemed like nothing to me. My first car when I was 16 was a 1979 GMC Cargo Van. How different could it be?

Quite a bit different, it turns out. When I was driving my beloved van (black with a big white smiley face on the side) in high school, I'd have only one passenger in the other bucket seat, in addition to anyone who wanted to sit on the floor in the back. But in the crew van that first year, we were stuffed in like sardines with all our gear for the stops. People and gear there was plenty of. Sense of direction? Not so much, but plenty of back seat driving. I made so many three-point turns in that huge van, it was comical. And I managed to hit only ten curbs in the process!

As I continue driving the crew vans every year, the amount of gear increases, but fewer people means less cramming, and the strangers are now my dear friends. We still don't ever have any sense of direction, we still get lost at least twice each year, and I still hit curbs, though fewer of them. But we get there. What would the walkers do without us? And what would we do without them?

Jill lives in East Taunton with her husband and a very annoying cat. She was diagnosed with MS in 1998 when she was 24. She has been participating in the Challenge Walk since the beginning as a crew member and can also be found at many other fundraising events.