The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

May 6, 2013

Locals show strength against MS

By Denise Richardson Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — ONEONTA - Patricia Murphy of Meridale said she used to walk many miles and enjoy the exercise. Completing about a mile in the MS Walk in Oneonta on Sunday, she said, left her “pooped.” 

The loss of energy and ability, Murphy said, is the result of multiple sclerosis.

MS is a disease of the central nervous system that affects 2.1 million people worldwide, a media release from the National MS Society Upstate New York Chapter said. Across the state, more than 12,800 people are diagnosed with MS, the release said, and symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. 

A 2010 diagnosis was life-altering, leaving her unable to work or deal with chronic fatigue, the 52-year-old home health-care nurse assistant said.

But on Sunday morning after completing the MS Walk in Oneonta’s Neahwa Park, she smiled constantly while talking about aid from medication, the support of her neurologist and particularly the help of her daughters, Sarah, 21, and Suzanne, 18, who live with her.

Sarah Murphy said her mother has worked hard to learn about the disease and meet its challenges.

“She’s a very, very positive woman,’’ she said. To help her mother and others with multiple sclerosis, Sarah Murphy said, the eight-member Team Victory Hill Farm was formed this year to participate in the local MS Walk. 

About 250 participants were registered for Sunday’s walk in Oneonta, organizers said, and the goal was to raise $28,000. No tally was available Sunday, they said; participants have until June to turn in funds. 

Walk MS is the major annual fundraiser for the National MS Society Upstate New York Chapter, the release said. Funds supports local services and programs and research to find a cure for multiple sclerosis.

Team Victory Hill Farm, which includes horse farm owner Peg Morrone, held a fundraising event with pony rides and horse-handling exercises at the property on Lougheed Road in Oneonta on April 28. The team, which aims to raise $500 for the MS Society, also has canisters for donations at local businesses, Sarah Murphy said, and she turned in about $185 on Sunday. 

To help MS patients and others with disabilities, Sarah Murphy said, she aims to help see Victory Hill Farm designated as a center that can offer therapeutic riding, which her mother has found beneficial. Each patient with multiple sclerosis has different symptoms, she said.

“It’s the most unpredictable disease,’’ Sarah Murphy, who also works in home health care, said. Riding and handling horses not only is therapeutic exercise but also offer opportunities to overcome fears and gain a sense of accomplishment, she said. 

In Oneonta’s Neawha Park on Sunday, participants and volunteers, many in orange, yellow or white T-shirts, were busy walking in groups of various sizes or helping at registration booths. 

This year, the route expanded from the park into a stretch along downtown Main Street, a change made to increase awareness in the community about the walk and the MS Society’s mission, organizers said.

The MS Walk in Oneonta returned in 2006 after a hiatus, Kim Pearce-Schwed, an organizer of the local event, said Sunday. Many patients with multiple sclerosis don’t have obvious symptoms, she said, and presenting a local event that is open to participants affected by MS is an important avenue toward boosting awareness. 

The local walk may not be as large as events in Utica or other cities, organizers said, but participants and merchants created a warm and welcoming experience. 

Said Pearce-Schwed, “We’re proud of our little walk in Oneonta.”