Walk for MS awareness back this October

More than 250 people came out to Heritage Park Saturday morning to participate in Walk MS: Cullman in 2018, most wearing signs on their backs in honor of those for whom they were walking. (Nick Griffin for The Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Cullman’s Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Walk is back for the first time since COVID-19,  thanks largely in part to a collaboration with Joanne P. LaGanke Multiple Sclerosis Center, Align Alabama Health and Wellness, High Caliber Mechanical and the gumption of Taylor Wilson Valentine, a clinical researcher with North Central Neurology, Dr. LaGanke’s Office and Joanne P. LaGanke Multiple Sclerosis Center. The walk will be held Saturday, Oct. 28, 2023, from 8 a.m.-noon at Heritage Park.

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic inflammatory and neurodegenerative disease affecting approximately 400,000 people in the United States and 2.1 million people worldwide, and for the team at Dr. LaGanke’s office, it’s personal. 

“This is a cause very near and dear to his heart as his mother succumbed to the disease and he started the Joanne P. LaGanke Multiple Sclerosis Center,” said Office Manager Debbie Simonsen. “Having the walk helps patients to feel like there is hope out there for them, and that others care.” 

While the walk (typically sponsored by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society) happened for years, COVID-19 and more recent policy changes have made it more difficult to host. 

“For several years, the National MS Society sponsored Cullman as an official chapter of the annual MS Walk, but once COVID took place, it got in the way of the walks,” explained Valentine.  

“This year is the first year they started sponsoring chapters again. However, they are limiting them to bigger areas, such as Birmingham and Huntsville, leaving our chapter to fall in our hands to do alone, or to not hold it at all,” she said. “Not holding it at all? Definitely not our style!” 

“The people of Cullman with MS, or who have loved ones with MS, have called and asked us for months about what we are going to do now that the walk is back,” said Valentine, “and we want to give them the best walk they’ve ever had!” 

Simonsen said booth or table space is available. To register or purchase a T-shirt, contact the office of Dr. LaGanke at 256-739-1210 between 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.  

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