When Jocelyn Noel of Langley saw all her family and friends dressed up for Christmas, she burst into tears of happiness.
It was her first time participating in the annual MS Walk in Langley City, held Sunday at Douglas Park, and the PJs and Santa hats were a nod to a long-running joke that her name, loosely translated, means “Merry Christmas.”
“I’ve always loved Christmas,” Noel said, as she posed for a photo with sons Noah and Judah, husband Zack and about a dozen other friends and relatives.
The event was the first MS Walk for Taylor Kershaw of Aldergrove, too.
“It was just kind of important for me to get involved (since I was diagnosed),” Kershaw said, surrounded by her team iof family and friends,.
The largest team at the walk, more than 60 people, was fielded by Agrima Botanicals Talent Acquisition coordinator Andie Sather, who has progressive MS and said she is “thrilled” to be a part of a company that recognizes her daily limitations and supports her.
“These walks are very, very important,” Sather said.
She said she struggles with memory, fatigue, and chronic pain every day, but she refuses to let it interfere with her career goals.
Katie Skingsley and her “Mighty Sassy” team of fellow Disney fans was there for their 10th walk.
Skingsley has been to the “happiest place in earth” theme park in U.S. 11 times, adding a small tattoo each time to record the event.
Her MS was flaring up that day, but she was less concerned about that than the participation of her younger sister Chrissie, who has spent five years battling a disabling workplace injury to get to the point where she could manage the walk.
Up till now, she had to content herself with waiting at the finish line.
“I was on two crutches, now I’m on a cane,” Chrissie said.
For her first walk in five years, she was using a single crutch instead of a cane, to make sure she could finish.
This year, the Langley City MS Walk raised 150 per cent of it’s $22,000 goal, collecting $33,000 online.
Attendance was up, with 25 teams and more than 200 walkers taking part in the Saturday morning event at Douglas Park (20550 Douglas Cres.).
Over 30,000 participants were expected to take part in walks at different locations across Canada.
MS is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system, which can cause extreme fatigue, lack of co-ordination, weakness, tingling, impaired sensation, vision problems, cognitive impairment and mood changes.
It is one of the most common neurological diseases among young adults in Canada.
Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 40.
The MS Society provides services to people with MS and their families and funds research to find the cause and cure for this disease.
Visit mssociety.ca or call 1-800-268-7582 to make a donation.
More to come.