Hundreds walk to help find a cure for MS

Apr 7, 2019

When Ted Threlfall was first diagnosed with MS in 2005, his wife Deb had never even heard of the disease. Now, they lead a team of more than 100 walkers who are legends to Walk MS Dartmouth participants.

Out of 27 teams, Team Ted raised more than $30,000 this year to benefit the National MS Society's Walk MS event, held at Quinn Elementary School on April 7.

It’s both providing funds for a cure — Deb is confident her husband will be able to walk once again — and awareness for the debilitating and often misunderstood disease.

Multiple sclerosis, or MS, affects the central nervous system. It causes the body's immune system to attack and damage nerve fibers and myelin, a fatty substance that protects the nerve fibers. The effects can be widespread, unpredictable, and debilitating. There is no cure for MS. 

Ted was diagnosed with primary-progressive MS, one of the rarest forms of the disease with only 10 percent of those diagnosed with MS having it.

At the time of his diagnosis, there was no medication or treatment available, but Ted is now on a breakthrough drug called Ocrevus, which was put on the market in 2017.

“I honestly believe if we weren’t raising these huge amounts of money, there wouldn’t be research,” Deb said. “It’s all about the research.”

More than 400 participants spread across 27 teams walked for a cure on April 7 in Dartmouth alone. Walk MS events were being held across the country, including Boston.

“It’s an event to bring together the community to raise funds for MS research,” said Katia Sekaly, manager of Walk MS. “The National MS Society envisions a world free of MS.”

Rochester Fire Department firefighters and EMTs completed the walk in full gear to raise funds for MS and honor one of their own, fire captain Jeff Eldridge. Ten firefighters were joined by members of the department’s fire explorers program for the walk.

“The reason we walk in our gear is it’s not easy, and neither is living with MS,” said firefighter/EMT Tracy Eldridge.

Jeff was diagnosed with MS in 2013. When Tracy and fellow firefighters learned of Walk MS, they put together the Hero’s Walk in 2014. They’ve been at it ever since, and this year raised $3,000.

For the walk, Jeff donned a Rochester Fire Department helmet given to him by a prior department deputy chief. The helmet includes messages written by fire departments from across Florida.

“To see his reaction to people supporting him is awesome,” Tracy said.

Dartmouth resident Susana Viera walked with her team, Susana's Orange and Black. It was made up of members of the Susana Viera MS Foundation.

The foundation was founded by a group of healthcare professionals to raise awareness about MS. The foundation offers scholarships and transportation for MS patients.

Although funds are still being calculated, more than $75,000 was raised at Walk MS Dartmouth.