The Jayman Built MS Walk in Drumheller is reaching an important milestone this year, celebrating 20 years of the event.
The Annual Walk, typically on the first Sunday in May, has been a great fundraiser to support those with MS, programs, and research. Just as importantly, it has helped build a community.
Shawna Johnston who is acting as a spokesperson this year feels this is a moment that needs celebration.
“We really want the public to be aware that we are 20 years strong and it is because of the efforts of those who have spearheaded the walk. They were the pioneers of bringing the MS Society to Drumheller and surrounding area,” she tells the Mail.
The cause is dear to Johnston as she is living with MS. She was diagnosed in 1996, shortly after her son was born.
“At that time there was no society here, and no supports here. It was a scary time for me and my family, but I had to seek people out in the community and bravely I did. I got a lot of information and support,” she said.
“When we ran the walk and recognized the need for support, that’s when it flourished and things started to happen in the valley.”
The walk was established in 1999.
“When we ran the first walk we met all the people here who had MS and wanted some support.”
With that, they started the local chapter and arranged a support group.
“For me, being able to offer support for those newly diagnosed and those who had been diagnosed for many years but need support, is very important,” she said. “We have to think of the newly diagnosed but also the people who had it for years. Things change with MS and level of support and care they require change too.”
This year the MS Walk is on Sunday, May 5. Check-in is at 9 a.m. and the walk goes at 10 a.m. There is a choice for walkers to take on a 2-kilometre or a 5-kilometre route. The funds raised go towards research and support programs.
This year’s goal is to raise $26,000 and already 30 walkers are registered.
To register, go to www.mswalk.ca and follow the links to the Drumheller event.
Johnston is proud to be the spokesperson for the MS Walk.
“When they asked me again to be the spokesperson, my heart is here,” she said. “I know that in the community of Drumheller and surrounding area, MS is near and dear to their heart because there are so many people. Every time you turn around someone is getting diagnosed.”