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Nearly 1,000 West Hartford Area Residents Step Out For A Single Cause

By Amanda Stowe, Public Relations Intern & CCSU Student

       WEST HARTFORD, Conn. Approximately 1,000 West Hartford area residents laced up and stepped out Sunday, April 22, to take part in the 18th annual Travelers MS Walk, presented by UnitedHealth Group, which was held on the University of Connecticut, West Hartford campus. Under sunny skies and unseasonably warm temperatures, area residents came out in force to support the more than 6,000 Connecticut residents diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). Those in the area facing the unpredictable effects of MS looked to family, friends and co-workers to support them in a fight against the potentially debilitating disease.

Salerni“Everyone came out in full force,” said Karen E. Butler, vice president of communications with the Greater Connecticut Chapter. “The visible support and passion of those attending buoy and encourage those affected by multiple sclerosis. Meaningful change takes place when individuals from all walks of life step out together in support of a single cause to end the devastating effects of multiple sclerosis.”

 Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, oftentimes debilitating, disease affecting the central nervous system. The cause is unknown, and there is no cure for MS. More than 400,000 nationwide are diagnosed with MS and more than 6,000 statewide live with multiple sclerosis, including more than 100 West Hartford area residents.

Participants walked 2.5- or 5-mile routes, returning to finish line festivities, which included music and games hosted by 96.5 TIC and lunch compliments of Subway and Coca-Cola.

More than 100 supporters from Prince Tech High School and Dream Camp stepped out on behalf of 17-year-old Ciara Rivera, who attended in a wheelchair on a day pass from Connecticut Children’s Medical Center (CCMC) where she has been admitted with a progressive form of MS for most of the past school year.Ciara

“This event is what’s going to help Ciara try to get back on her own two feet,” said her mother Sandra Collazo in an interview with NBC 30 reporter Amy Parmenter. “So someday she can again enjoy swimming, walking and even going to school.”

Not everyone walked. In fact, some chose to run, including Liz Smith, who has been participating in the annual event for more than five years in support of a family member diagnosed with MS.

“It’s important to get involved,” said Smith. “Those diagnosed today have a much better chance as a result of medications and therapies that just weren’t available several years ago.”

Funds raised through National MS Society, Greater Connecticut Chapter events, such as the MS Walk, ensure ongoing scientific research to find better therapies, treatments and a cure. Funds also provide for vital programs and services offered by the chapter to those in the state affected by multiple sclerosis.

 The West Hartford walk site planning committee hopes to raise more than $146,000. The prize deadline for submitting outstanding individual and team pledges is May 31. The Greater Connecticut Chapter, which now hosts walks at 10 site locations, hopes to raise $1.1. Last year, the MS Walk raised approximately $1 million. For more information regarding outstanding pledges and prize eligibility, please call Michelle Zimnoch, development director, at (860) 714-2300, ext. 234.



Karen E. Butler
Vice President of Communications
Greater Connecticut Chapter
tel +1.860.714.2300
cell +1.860.997.4487


CUTLINE:  Ciara Rivera, 17, tells NBC 30 reporter Amy Parmenter, “I have MS, but it doesn’t have me.” As a result of the disabling effects of her disease, Rivera has been admitted to Connecticut Children’s Medical Center (CCMC) for much of the past year. Rivera was recently featured on a WTNH News Channel 8 news story highlighting pediatric MS. More than 8,000 youths are currently diagnosed with MS. The youngest child diagnosed with MS in Connecticut is just 11 years old.

CUTLINE:  Cromwell residents Frank, Debbie and Ben Salerni and grand marshal and WTNH News Channel 8 anchor Darren Kramer set the pace for the 2007 Travelers MS Walk. The family, the 2007 spokespeople for the MS Walk, have been members of the Travelers MS Walk Team for many years. The team has been named among the Statewide Top Ten Teams many times, including last year when it raised attracted over 178 participants and raised more than $52,000!! Ben Salerni, whose mother has MS, was also singled out and named among the 2006 Top 25 Fundraisers Statewide, raising by himself almost $3,000!


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