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What's so special about a bunch of candles?

Written by on August 14, 2012 at 3:36 pm

CandleThe captain of The Rhode Trippers, Paige Magratten, whom we interviewed on this blog three months ago, isn't the only member of her family who's active with MS Challenge Walk. Her husband and daughter also do their part to bring the world closer to a cure for multiple sclerosis.

One way 16-year-old Colby Magratten has supported her mom is through her way with words. Two years ago, she penned the poem "The Light of Hope". This year, she produced this solicitation letter that Paige found worth sharing with the MS Challenge Blog community:

In seven weeks The Rhode Trippers will be walking 50 miles on Cape Cod. This will be Brooks' 11th, 50 mile walk: an amazing gift he continues to give each year. The gift of your thoughts and support I feel is a big factor in my "remission" of 11 years now. This weekend always recharges my batteries for the whole year to come. Below are thoughts that Colby shared for our letter this year.

What's so special about a bunch of candles?

A candle is just a string dipped in wax but hundreds of them lit and held high can truly be extraordinary. Under a huge tent hundreds of amazing people all hold up their candles to show their hope for a world free of multiple sclerosis.

With blisters on their feet, these people walk fifty miles over three days all to help people suffering from this disease. We all, one-by-one, lift up our light not letting the wind blow it out. As I wait for my turn to light up the sky, I think of my father. Fighting off the pain that millions of steps bring, trying to find the energy for the miles ahead.

We are there as: one heart, one pain, and one hope for a cure. Why am I here? My reason is my mother. She is still able to stand with us and hold her candle, unlike others who will sit in a chair forever. But still, she is limited. The simple things like taking a walk or going to a museum are major struggles for her. Though she is in remission, that doesn't mean she's going to get better. That is the reason why I stand with my candle; I am standing strong for her. I need to be strong and help her gain strength from this light.

So I stand watching a shared flame. A flame passed on to others affected by MS. We stand as part of a family of strangers holding their candles high for the entire world to see. So let me ask you this: What's so special about a bunch of candles?

Ken 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.

A few of my favorite things

Written by on July 24, 2009 at 11:25 am

Here's what about the MS Challenge Walk makes me smile and laugh:

  • Sarge yelling "Hoo-rah!"
  • Ralph, the "Hamburger Man", at rest stops saying "Thank you for walking for me."
  • Posing for Andrew and Steve in a funny pose, then  hear them say "Wait, do it again," only I can't move to strike the same pose.
  • I love watching the slide shows and hearing all the laughs, cheers, and "aw".
  • The hardest part of the Challenge Walk for me is climbing up into the top bunk bed, especially after 40 miles!
  • Walking, walking, walking, walking, then suddenly hearing the cheers, and clappers and whistles and knowing that a rest stop is near by.

    Jeannie & Melody Felton with Tracy DeBlois and Doug Lowe

  • The fantastic volunteers encouraging me as I trudge on and on, and each biker that passes late in the day says "You're almost there! It's right around the corner!"
  • Epsom salt foot soaks. Aaaahhhh!
  • Jeannie, Melody, and Tracy singing.
  • Hugs. Hugs. Hugs.
  • Checking out everyone's t-shirts.
  • Who doesn't love a parade?
  • Crossing that finish line one more time to say "Screw you, MS!"

Heather lives in Hampton, NH, and completed her first 50 miles in 2003 in honor of her great-grandmother who had MS. Ironically, she began having symptoms in 2004, and was finally diagnosed with MS in 2006. This will be her 6th walk, and her first as team captain of "All Smiles for 50 Miles". Heather recruited 7 friends to walk, and her mom to volunteer on the Crew. Heather is a pediatric physical therapist in NH.

Wanted: One national anthem singer

Written by on July 13, 2009 at 11:45 am

The MS Challenge Walk begins and ends with ceremonies, and we want you to be a part of it. As you arrive on the Hyannis Village Green the morning of Friday, September 11th, there will be various warm-ups, stretches, and exercises to help get ready for your first 20 miles. But before we go, we'll pay our respects to the American flag.

We are looking for a walker or crew member to sing the national anthem at the Hyannis Village Green that Friday morning at 8 AM.  If you or someone you know is a vocalist who wants to contribute to a great start to the MS Challenge Walk, please email mschallenge@mam.nmss.org, or call 800-344-4867 option 2.

Todd, formerly the Director of Development for the Greater New England Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, is now the the Regional Director of FAS Capital Giving at Harvard University. In addition to reading his blog posts, you can also find Todd on Twitter.