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The light of hope

Written by on September 1, 2010 at 11:33 am

The walkers and crew that constitute the MS Challenge Walk are challenged every day to help their spouses, siblings, parents, and children cope with MS. Everyone wants to do something, but not everyone knows what to do.

After Wendy wrote about how to get kids involved, a reader asked for more ideas to give teens who want to contribute to the MS Challenge Walk.

It must've been kismet that, just a few days later, Paige Magratten of Team Paige wrote in to tell us about her daughter:

Colby is 14 and has participated in the walk since she was 6.  The MS Challenge Walk has had a tremendous effect on growing up having a mom with MS.  Thanks to the walk, she associates MS not with fear, but joy and activism.

Every year, Colby helps prepare our letters with stickers, rubber stamping, and addressing.  At the walk itself, she has been giving out chocolate-chip granola bars and stickers with Crew 3 since she was 8.  She has seen the outpouring of love and support for her mom and so many others with MS. And she LOVES the candle lighting ceremony — no matter how tired the team is, she rallies the gang to go on Saturday night.

When her school gave her a poetry assignment, she knew she wanted to write it about the MS Challenge Walk. She gave me a draft to proofread for spelling, and it caught me by such surprise that the tears just started to flow.  When she read the poem in front of the class, her teacher was so taken by it she had Colby read it a second time. I decided to include Colby's poem in our letters this year.  The notes that have come back with the checks are proof that her words don't bring just me to tears.

Team Paige

It takes a family to cure MS.

Paige and Colby have given permission for Colby's poem, "The Light of Hope", to be shared here.

I hold a newly lit candle in my hand,
Hiding it from the wind.
I did not start the light.
I hold a shared flame that started from a single match.
The light spreads from wick to wick,
'Til we raise our candles up,
And the wind turns our light to darkness.

I am reminded of why I am here.
For in moments of true happiness,
I forget.
Everyone around me is here for one reason,
But I am here for another.
To wish that it will never end.

A friend goes up to the podium
To tell her story.
The story I know far too well.
Outside friends shed tears,
While I try to hide my own.
She needed help,
So then I stood next to her and helped her conquer fear.

We are a family of strangers
With a common goal: "hope".
How they do it? I do not know.
I recall a small trail of smoke from a single candle,
That reminds me that it has to end.
I do not know when but that step will be taken.

Thank you, Colby, for reminding us of all the different ways we can contribute toward a world free from MS.

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.

Get the kids involved!

Written by on July 12, 2010 at 4:00 pm

This is the second year that my team and I participate in the Challenge Walk. My 8-year-old son, William, is too young to participate in the Challenge Walk but wants to help in any way he can. He loves to help us put the mailings together — his job is the stamps and closing the envelopes! He also helps with raffle item solicitations and many other jobs at the fundraisers we hold.

This past spring, William signed up to do one of the one-day walks as a walker. My husband and I felt that this was his endeavor, so we let him take the lead on what he wanted to do for his fundraising. Since he watches us put on fundraisers to raise money for the Challenge Walk, I don't think he completely understands that we also ask people for donations.

To raise money for his walk, William wanted to sell something. We took a trip to our local craft shop and purchased a large box of beads and some nylon thread so he could make bracelets. He made all kinds of wonderful variations, being careful that each one was different. The bracelets were made in two sizes to fit kids through adults. We bagged each one in a snack-size bag with a label stating what the money was for and that they were hand crafted by William himself — then off he went!

William first hit up the neighborhood, then the family (aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents are always interested in something made by a child!). On that Sunday morning, he brought his merchandise to church; between coffee hour and the parking lot, he sold out! I don't think one person he approached said no, though of course, he only asked the people he knew. He also brought them to school and sold a few to his teacher.

The bracelets were sold for just a dollar, but many people gave more. Though this task's main purpose was to raise money for the walk, I think it taught all involved a good lesson. William put his heart into those bracelets, and he was as proud as could be each time one was purchased… although probably not as proud as his mom!

So, get the kids involved in any small way possible. Kids love to help and want to do something but may not ask. As William says which we ironed it onto his t-shirt, "I help MS!" He certainly does help in more ways than he knows!

Wendy, the captain of Team WWW (Walk With Wendy), was diagnosed with MS in 2006.  Although she cut down on her work hours during the past year, she still loves her job as a teacher.  Wendy lives in Attleboro, MA, with her supportive husband and 9-year-old son, who provides inspiration for her daily!