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Armani Jackson, Managing Editor
Before 10 a.m. on a foggy Saturday morning, Tom McCollow’s team along with thousands of people gathered creating a sea of orange, the recognized color for Multiple Sclerosis awareness, for the 26th annual South Sound MS walk at Chamber’s Bay. Wigs, inflatable suits, the Tacoma Rainiers mascot Rhubarb The Reindeer and inspirational music created an atmosphere of elation among participants.
Pierce College Puyallup Math Professor Tom McCollow and 11 team members including family and fellow Pierce faculty participated in Walk MS on April 9, a fundraiser to raise money and awareness for multiple sclerosis, a disease that occurs in the central nervous system where lesions in the brain can develop. Thousands of people, either suffering from the disease or knowing someone who does, participated.
Tom McCollow, his daughter-in-law Nikole McCollow and Pierce student Autumn McVay were among the people who walked for Tom and his wife Kendra McCollow’s son Devin. Other members were Amy Muir, Consolidated Services faculty member Robert Crane, Chemistry Professor Katy Olsen-Tiglao, Mel Tiglao, Paul Olsen, Nursing Dept. Coordinator Lauren Julin, Administrative Assistant Karen Hunt, Kristi Sweeney, Assistant Professor of Sociology Daniel Suh and Associate Professor Roya Sabeti. This is the first walk Tom McCollow and his family have been apart of.
McCollow’s son was diagnosed with MS a little more than a year ago.
“There’s not much that I can do to help him with his MS, and this is a fun thing to do, so I want to get involved with that, ” Tom McCollow said.
Tom McCollow heard about the walk a while ago and in December received an email from the National MS Society announcing the event. He talked with his family and then began asking his coworkers if they were interested. Many agreed, creating a team of 15 called “Team Sabri,” derived from Tysabri, the medication for Tom McCollow’s son.
A person could register without being on a team. This is encouraged because it allows a greater opportunity to not only raise more money, but also have more fun at the event, according to the Walk MS website.
Walk MS is a part of the Multiple Sclerosis Society national organization which sponsors various walks, runs, bike rides and obstacle courses every year to raise money for the cause.
The trail was two miles, but there was also a one mile option. The air was chilly, but it didn’t stop people from cheering and dancing their way along the path to I Can Do This by David Osmond.
“I’m old and fat, but I can still walk two miles,” Tom McCollow said.
Administrative Assistant Karen Hunt was one of members of Team Sabri and said this event was “an inspiring walk for a beautiful cause.”
Once the team was established, some effort before the event was necessary, Tom McCollow said. Every registered team and individual has a fundraising goal they set for the day of the walk. Team Sabri exceeded their goal by 50 percent, raising $1,814. Many people advertise the cause on their Facebook, Twitter or other social media accounts, but since Tom McCollow doesn’t have any, he called friends and other family members to donate.
At the event, teams could win awards, some including “Best Dressed Team” and “Most Spirited.” Leading up to the walk, mini competitions were held for meeting challenges. For example, individuals or teams could win various prizes for achieving statuses like raising more than $100 or doubling a team’s size within a certain time frame, Tom McCollow said.
According to the National MS Society website, MS is a disease that occurs in the central nervous system. Multiple lesions develop in the brain and it disrupts the flow of information in the brain, and between someone’s brain and body.
“I’m learning more and more about what MS is about,” Tom McCollow said. “Like so many diseases, it’s different for everybody. (The walk is) a community thing, learning and getting to know people (and) learning what resources are available. I kind of feel a little frustrated right now sometimes in that I don’t know what I can offer for my son.”
Previously, treatments for MS were mostly to minimize the effects of the symptoms, but as of recently, medical professionals are starting to cure the disease, Tom McCollow said.
Walk MS also provided the opportunity to see what resources are available for someone suffering from MS as well as being able to meet individuals who have battled it and survived.
“My son is fighting with the insurance company because the treatments are expensive,” Tom McCollow said. “He lives in Ellensburg and has to come over here to Seattle for treatment. It’s a real bother for him, (and) he’s not getting a lot of support that way.”
Devin McCollow was able to network with attendees and now receives his treatment in Ellensburg.
Along with networking, faculty members were able to build a stronger bond with each other while on the team.
“I’m seeing sides of people that I work with that I’ve not seen before,” Tom McCollow said. “Karen Hunt is a super amazing administrative assistant, but she’s a funny person too. She’s hilarious. And Daniel (Suh), he’s a fun guy. It allows us to see each other out of our role (as educators).”
To learn more about MS and its effects, visit NationalMSSociety.org. To participate in a Walk MS, visit WalkMS.org
The Puyallup Post is the award-winning student news of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2017. Twitter/Instagram @puyalluppost
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