A couple of friends from West Kelowna didn't want to see the MS Walk fade away in the Kelowna area, so they have jumped in with both feet to keep it going.
Dave Scruton and Brian Jamieson have organized the Central Okanagan MS Walk, which will take place on Saturday, May 27, starting from the Gellatly Nut Farm in West Kelowna.
The men are volunteers with the Kelowna Community Policing Society.
"Both of us are personally affected by Multiple Sclerosis. Brian's wife has it, and my son has it," said Scruton. "We learned last fall that there was no walk scheduled for the Central Okanagan in 2023 because there was a lack of volunteers in Kelowna. Brian and I made the decision together that we could not accept that, and we were going to organize the walk ourselves."
They reached out to MS Canada and got the go-ahead. He believes it will be the first walk in the Central Okanagan in four years. They're aiming to raise $25,000 for MS support programs and research toward finding a cure.
"There are about 90,000 Canadians with MS. We have one of the highest incidences per capita of MS in the world. Twelve people a day in Canada are diagnosed with MS," said Scruton.
One of those who has been living with MS for several years is Kelowna city councillor Mohini Singh. She will be speaking at the start of the event on Saturday.
Singh was diagnosed in 2001, but she believes she experienced symptoms for years.
"It was the time I was getting married, and I was just so exhausted all the time. I thought, oh, it's just because I'm overdoing it, you know, the wedding and all this.
"And then I went on my honeymoon, and I lost my sight while skiing at Lake Louise."
Singh says she went for an MRI, and that led to her diagnosis. She says despite dealing with the ups and downs of MS, she held down two significant jobs while raising a teenager by herself.
"I've managed to adjust my illness with my everyday life. Even today, I'm with my grandson at playtime. It's just a question of adjusting your life," she adds.
Her advice to anyone else with the chronic disease is to stay positive, know your limitations, and find a support network of friends and family who will be there when you need them.
Interested participants can still sign up for the 2023 Central Okanagan MS Walk here.
Singh will be joined by West Kelowna Mayor Gord Milsom to welcome the participants. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. There will be two routes: a two-kilometre and a four-kilometre walk, both setting out from the Gellatly Nut Farm.
Volunteers from the West Kelowna Community Policing Society and Peachland Community Policing will monitor both walking routes to ensure all participants are well looked after.