Why I'll Walk

This weekend, I'll join my team, Walk Steady, for Walk MS in Burlington, Vermont. I decided to do the walk to show my support for other people who have MS, especially in my state, where the number of people facing this disease is higher than average. If raising a little money and generating a little visibility for MS can help in anyway, then I want to participate.

Now that it's getting closer, I'll admit that I'm nervous.

  • What if it's cold? My leg gets stiff when it's cold.
  • What if I can't walk three miles? I think I can, but I haven't lately.
  • What if I have a limp? I limp when I'm tired and that would be embarrassing.
  • What if I trip? It wouldn't be the first time.
  • What if I'm sad? Because having MS is a hard business.

On one hand, it's a nice walk on a hopefully sunny day. On the other hand, it's a walk fraught with hard truths about a disease that I sometimes prefer not to think too much about.

I mentioned all this to my friend Kate early on, and she gave me such wonderful advice: "The whole point of Walk MS is that you don't have to be scared." Or embarrassed, or nervous, or anything else. It's a day to join in with other people who have the same challenges that I do, or who love people who have the same challenges, or who just want to share their support. It's a day to be brave.

So this weekend, I'll strap on my walking shoes and join in. I've got some great friends who will walk with me and my wonderful parents are risking the still-cold Vermont weather to walk as well. Limp or no limp, I'll be there celebrate the fact that I can do it and to show my support for people who can't. If you're in Vermont, I hope I'll see you there, too.

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Katie Jennings, Blogger

Katie Jennings keeps busy juggling a son, a husband, a job, an old house, a bossy cat and unpredictable Vermont weather. She was diagnosed with progressive relapsing MS in December 2012. She blogs about all of it at http://steadyshegoes.com.

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  • Mary   Apr 2, 2014 10:57 AM
    "I walk. To be strong."

    I am early in my MS journey and am still able to run. But I have the up-most respect for those who are further progressed in their condition who have the courage and strength to remain active. It's a daunting task to put yourself out there when you know there are certain to be struggles. Just know that you will be surrounded by those who are also facing the same struggles. And those that are there with you in spirit. So walk. To be and stay strong.
  • Pam Granger   Apr 2, 2014 11:18 AM
    I understand your concerns. I will be participating in the MS Walk in St. Louis, MO. The weather in the midwest is so unpredictable. I hope it doesn't rain and the temperature is nice. We are all out there walking to help raise money for the MS society and to show solidarity in the efforts to find a cure for this very unpredictable disease. I was diagnosed in November 2013. This is challenge is very new to me. I am just going to do the best that I can and walk as far as I can. I have many friends and family that are joining me. I have never participated in any type of charitable walk. This will be the start of many more. Go TEAM VICTORY!
  • Linda   Apr 2, 2014 11:20 AM
    Courage. Strength. You are a true inspiration to many especially to your son and husband and cat. Have fun and enjoy the walk! You will be great!!!!
  • Celeste   Apr 2, 2014 11:37 AM
    Diagnosed in December 2012. RRMS probably since 1999, evidenced by increasing numbers of brain lesions. Undiagnosed by New Neuro who doesn't think I have MS (my former doctor passed away and I was referred to his partner.) I am quite frustrated--if not MS--what is wrong with me? Still treating symptoms, but no DMD. Will try to walk if I can to support education and research for this crazy disease.
  • Val Stewart   Apr 2, 2014 11:50 AM
    Hi all I am Val from Scotland, just newly diagnosed a year ago with RRMS and remaining positive. All the best to everyone taking part and the weather cant be anyworse than it is hear . Sending support your way guys! Valxx
  • Alonso Martinez   Apr 2, 2014 11:59 AM
    This will be our third year walking in Northern Virginia. We did Reston the first year, Washington last year and doing Manassas this year. We walk as a family in support of my wife, diagnosed 2 years ago.
    I know my wife appreciates the support, although she is not the Rah!! Rah!! type. We found people limping, people in wheelchairs. We found cheerful teams, and some more subdued. There was some dancing, some walking, lots of socializing. not knowing what to expect, my wife almost turned around as she did not want to be there.
    We took a deep breath and started the walk. Reston was physically challenging as it has some rolling hills. We took it slow, completed the loop and then went home. She was exhausted, partially physically, partially emotionally of not knowing what to expect, or not knowing if a limp or a wheelchair was in her future.
    We did not feel the walk as a life-changing experience, but more as a form of support and as a way to fulfill our commitment on behalf of those who supported our team with their donations.
    Regards, and all the best to you
  • Jeff B   Apr 2, 2014 12:09 PM
    Yes, Yes; by all means WALK! Revel in your friends and family. If you do a "face plant" and someone gives you grief, just present them with the "appropriate gesture" and move on; pity them for their ignorance. My walking days are long over, but my thoughts will be with you and the others that make the effort.

    The journey is long and fraught with perils; but it's only over when you give in to it. Never give in!
  • wewaf12  Apr 2, 2014 1:12 PM
    Thank you all for walking. I was diagnosed in 2009 with MS. I also have RSD or CRPS. There is no way I can walk and I have a wheelchair, but no way to transport it. So, I cannot do the walk this year, even though I would like to. Looking at maybe next year if we get some transportation for my wheelchair. Meanwhile, I will just keep cheering all of you on!!! Thank you all again from my heart!
  • Brenda   Apr 2, 2014 2:08 PM
    Hi Katie, I too have MS. The first time I participated in the Bike MS, I was scared. I participated in San Diego. It is always great weather here, right? Wrong. That day, I woke up and it was cold, windy and raining (WTH?) Many people (even able bodied) backed out. I did not. I rode 25 miles, some of it in pouring rain slamming into me. It took me a while but, I finished and I couldn't have been prouder of myself. I got a lot of support from other riders along the way as well. It was a fun and great experience and I continue to do it every year since. You can do it and know you will get a lot of support and encouragement. Good for you!
  • ph0en1x  Apr 2, 2014 3:00 PM
    Being originally from CT (now living in NE) and spending many winter days hitting the trails at Okemo, I understand your stance on the weather. Go all out and enjoy the walk. Dress accordingly. Do it for the love of friends and family. For your future health. To inspire others. As they say, it takes a community to raise a family. In this case, to raise awareness for MS. I will be participating in my third walk this year alongside my fiancee (diagnosed Oct. 2002). Best to you now and in the future =)
  • Stacie   Apr 2, 2014 3:08 PM
    This year will be my first time walking and I'm pretty excited! I was diagnosed in January 2012 and have had many emotions about this disease. Sometimes I trip and fall, stumble and such but this isn't stopping me. I am nervous about the unknown but it's time we meet! So Eugene, Or I'll see you all in May!
    I hope your walk is amazing and rewarding! We have MS, it doesn't have us!
  • Lori Kiker   Apr 2, 2014 3:17 PM
    I was dx Feb 2012. I walked in our walk last yr and made it half way. This yr I dont kniw how far I can go but Im doing it. I have bad pain in my left foot but I may just take my cane.
    Keep on keepon going girl. We cant let this disease beat us. Maybe you can blog on how the ssd is so messed up for all of us. Its sad we have to loose everything before they decide to approve us. Pray for me to get approved or to at least get a hearing date. Love to you and yours
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    woordh2003  Apr 2, 2014 4:57 PM
    Hi walkers. I was dx 2 years ago next week. Doing my first walk with my best friend. I m excited and nervous also. I am doi g this to show my support. We have to stay positive, be couragous and strong!! we can beat this!! GO TEAM NANCY!
  • Connie   Apr 2, 2014 5:11 PM
    Katie, I hear that you are worried but determined and this will support you with your family and friends through this walk. One thing that I've learned is not to let the "what ifs" effect any choices I've made duringg 33 yrs. with this disease. If I had let that happen, there would be so many decisions made that I would regret. Try not to let things that may never happen influence your decisions. Be safe but walk on. Always keep going.
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    kate4ms  Apr 2, 2014 9:35 PM
    On Saturday, I hope you breathe in the fact that you're strong and beautiful and deeply loved, no matter how much you walk. Will be with you in spirit.
  • Clive   Apr 3, 2014 7:44 AM
    All the very best to everyone taking part in this walk hope you all do well.
  • Diane   Apr 3, 2014 9:24 AM
    Good luck with your walk ! You should be proud of yourself with every step you take ! My daughter is also walking this weekend in Florida. Like you she also has MS . It's a huge accomplishment for her and you ! Every dollar will hopefully help find a cure !!