Walkers compete for dollars to fight diseases

The competition fever that plagued the Multiple Sclerosis Walk is not limited to O‘ahu.

“On O‘ahu, there are many other events and causes that compete against the MS Walk,” said Melanie Horikami, a board member for the multiple sclerosis society.

Kaua‘i also caught that competitive bug as about a hundred walkers took off from Kukui Grove Shopping Center on the same day the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life was scheduled to take place.

But the walkers who showed up, some of whom were involved with Island School at the Kauai Interscholastic Federation Track Meet Friday night, came through with close to $9,000 that will go to helping fight the disease that affects the central nervous system.

Horikami said unlike some of the other diseases, MS is relatively obscure in Hawai‘i, another reason support for events like the MS Walk is not on scale with events like the March of Dimes WalkAmerica.

“There are 700 people in Hawai‘i that have MS,” Horikami said. “Funds from the generous community support for this MS Walk go to help them in their fight against the disease.”

Pono Pananganan of the Kaua‘i Technical Institute said his group showed up because they have members in their club that have family who suffer from MS and this is one of the ways they can show support, not just for their club members, but for the community as well. This was the second year the group turned out.

One of the new groups at this year’s MS Walk was a group formed by Island School athletic director Kirk Correa who was able to collect more than 30 walkers, a number just a tad shy of Hui Me Kapilialoha who turned out with more than 35 walkers.

Many of the Hui Me Kapilialoha walkers hail from the police department and the judiciary.

Kapa‘a High School’s Interact Club also fielded about 15 walkers who woke with the early birds to round out the larger groups. Joan Kealalio and Nellie Okamoto, advisors for the club, said they felt there should have been more students turning out, but were happy with those who did make the extra effort to be part of the walk.

Following the walk that snaked from the mall along the backside of Costco, up to the Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School before returning to the mall, walkers were treated to goodie bags being passed out by Brian Rapozo and his corps of volunteers.

Walkers also had refreshments that came courtesy of several community organizations.

Horikami said that unlike some of the other diseases, MS usually affects people between 20 to 50 years old, the prime of life.

“People usually do not die from MS. But they have to live with the symptoms for the rest of their lives,” she said. “This is a great effort for Kaua‘i, and we appreciate all the support the community shows us.”

According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Web site, MS is thought to be an auto-immune disease that affects the central nervous system. Twice as many women have the disease than men.

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