Quesnel resident Sandy Koett was initially hesitant to share her multiple sclerosis (MS) diagnosis with anyone outside of her family.
“I remember not wanting anyone at work to know. It was an emotional moment coming out to my then boyfriend, now husband,” said Koett, in a press release from the MS Society of Canada.
She has lived much of her life surrounded by the disease: Koett’s father died of MS and her two sisters also live with the disease.
Canada has the highest rate of MS in the world, according to the MS Society of Canada. Every day, three more Canadians are diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, an unpredictable illness that affects vision, balance, memory and mobility, according to the society’s website. We don’t know what causes MS and there is no cure.
Koett, who makes a point to smile and laugh daily, credits the local community with helping her to maintain a positive outlook on life and connect with others also affected by MS.
Koett is also a member of the Quesnel MS Self-Help Group, which meets monthly at Quesnel City Hall.
She has learned to both take care of herself and help family members in a similar situation by helping them get to appointments, sharing information and encouraging them to be their own advocates. As well as this support, Koett has raised more than $1,000 for the MS Society by going door-to-door, selling house plants online, and also selling donated hand-crafted items.
Now, Koett is the local spokesperson for the Quesnel MS Walk, which also plays an important role in fundraising to end MS and raising awareness.
The walk will begin at Spirit Square on Saturday, May 18 and will continue on the Riverfront Trail.
There will be information tables set up in Spirit Square to help spread education and awareness, and there will be a silent auction with many great gifts donated by the community.
Mr. Mike’s will also be cooking up their signature burgers for a minimum donation of $5 per burger.
This is the seventh year for the local walk, which raises money for the MS Society of Canada and helps bring awareness to the Quesnel MS Self-Help Group.
“This team is amazing,” says group chair Donna Jagusch. “We get bigger and bigger.”
Ten per cent of the money raised at this walk will also come back to the local MS Self-Help Group.
Last year, the Quesnel walk raised $4,000.
New this year will be a silent auction with items donated by local businesses.
As well, MediChair Quesnel has donated powered wheelchairs to those who may need them for the MS Walk. Anyone in need can message Audrey Craigmyle on Facebook if they would like one available for their use that day.
The seventh annual Quesnel MS Walk will take place Saturday, May 18 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Spirit Square.
For more information about the MS Walk or to donate online to the Quesnel MS Self-Help Group’s team, visit http://mssoc.convio.net/site/TR/Walk/BCandYukonDivision?team_id=105683&pg=team&fr_id=6328