Cross-Canada journey for MS awareness rolls through Kelowna

Chris Anderson passed through Kelowna Friday during his cross-country ride to raise funds and awareness for the MS Society of Canada.

Chris Anderson stops in Kelowna during his motorcycle ride across Canada in support of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada. Anderson has raised over $14

Chris Anderson stops in Kelowna during his motorcycle ride across Canada in support of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada. Anderson has raised over $14

Chris Anderson’s sister was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis a year and a half ago.

He knew very little about the disease at the time.

“I did some research and learned about the disease. My sister’s neurologist said they were optimistic that they’ll find a cure within five years,” said Anderson.

“I thought, why not raise as much money as I can to speed that up a bit?”

Anderson took off from St. John’s, NL July 17. Twenty-five days and 10,000 kms later, he’s on the home stretch of his journey.

“Before I started, I didn’t know if anybody would even care or be interested in what I decided to do. But everyone has been really generous—we’ve met a lot of really nice people.”

The police officer who is using his vacation time to complete the trip has raised over $14,000 for the MS Society of Canada to date. He hopes he can break the $20,000 mark by the end of the ride.

Michelle Hewitt, a board member with the local MS society chapter, was thrilled to see Anderson come through Kelowna Friday.

“People (like Anderson) are inspirational,” said Hewitt.

“The fact that people take time out of their lives to do things that ultimately help people like me—they’re my heroes.”

Hewitt has an aggressive form of MS that has kept her in a wheelchair for the last three-and-a-half years.

“Some people have the type where you can work alongside them and never know they have the disease. They’re still suffering, but it’s invisible. Mine is very visible and it has taken me away from everything that I do. As soon as I’m done here today, I’ll go home and sleep for the afternoon. I do that every day.”

She added that MS has made significant advances in research over the last 10 years; however, more progress has led to more questions.

Miriam King, fundraising coordinator with the local MS society chapter said that Anderson’s effort gives the society “huge awareness.”

“It’s a fantastic opportunity to bring education and information to the public,” said King.

“It’s such an invisible disease. The symptoms of MS are fatigue, pain and numbness—you can’t see that. But with people doing events like this, it brings (MS) to the forefront so people can see that.”

King said a local event in September will be key in raising funds for the Okanagan chapter of the MS Society of Canada.

The Okanagan Grape Escape will take place Sept. 8 and 9 in Kelowna and West Kelowna.

According to King, the event raised nearly $60,000 last year and accounts for nearly 50 per cent of the society’s annual fundraising.

“We raise the funds we need to support the individuals in our community who live with the disease,” said King.

She added the Kelowna MS clinic has approximately 800 patients.

For more information on Anderson’s ride visit msride.ca; for more information on the Okanagan Grape Escape, visit msbiketours.ca.

wpaterson@kelownacapnews.com

Kelowna Capital News