Challenge Walk 2010 in Review

First off, I have to start this post off by thanking the amazing folks who helped orchestrate yet another Challenge Walk that was even more inspiring than the first.  CCW 2010 went by in a sweaty blur and MSisBS met its fundraising goal with flying colors, $15,187.65.  That means that we’ve raised over $30,000 since we formed our team in 2008 – little steps beget enormous strides towards a change.  We could not do it without your hours of volunteering, dollars and dollars of pledges, spreading the word about the disease and the work to end it, and most of all the unwavering support that you guys give MS is BS.  When we need it, you’re always there, and we love you for this!

It was a brave fight to the finish this year for Challenge Walk – the theme (created by team member Dennis Gunder) went with both our sassy attitude (What does MS is BS really stand for? *wink wink*) and our love of music – Funk MS.  As such, team captain Lexi Franklin took the helm in the creation of a rest stop Night Club, disco ball and all.  Participants of the walk strutted down the red carpet to sweet jams and had pictures snagged from the papparazzi standing by.  We wanted to treat the walkers like the stars that they are for taking on the challenge of each raising at least $1500 for the National MS Society and then walking 50K (32 miles!) from Fairfax to the lawn of the Capitol in DC.

We had a record number of volunteers manning the rest stop, cheering all the walkers in: Maddy, Dave, Jon, Christen, Darlene, Kate, Dennis, Chris, Rick, Betsie, Debbie, Kristen, Jordan, and many others!  In addition, we were joined by the Top Fundraiser for the year’s event, Kelly Sawyer, who raised over $15,000 for the National MS Society.

Inside the rest stop, lunch was served to the tune of some sweet Piedmont Blues.  Rick Franklin played a live, acoustic set for the walkers while they had lunch and refueled.  In addition, as a means of celebrating my birthday (She’s nuts, I love her so much!), my sister and Team Captain Lexi baked 100 cupcakes and set up a birthday table for everyone to sign a giant card.

Meanwhile, out on the race course, our walkers (Shauna Clay, Becky Broyles, Laura Franklin, Takako Shigehisa and Katelyn Mancini) endured a grueling 20 mile walk up hill after hill in some unseasonably warm heat (in the 90s on Saturday!) – good thing they had some incredible rest stops to pass through, which kept their spirits up.  A big shout out to Best Rest Stop winners and good friends of MS is BS, Jacki’s Determined Soles, for their fabulous fiesta-themed rest stop.  They bring it every single year, and we love them!

After a seriously tough hike, the walkers crossed the halfway mark into the overnight location for a little rest and relaxation.  Dinner was provided by Urban BBQ again this year (yum!) and then the team unwound before the Candlelight Ceremony.  This year, Rick and Laura Franklin (our parents and co-captains of MS is BS) spoke about how MS touched their lives and made their pledge t0 continue fighting for a cure.  As the team lit their candles in honor of their personal fight against MS, we were all reminded of the magnitude of the work that we had done leading up to this point, and all that we needed to do in the future.

Sunday morning came quickly, and though a drizzly mess, MS is BS was out early working the event.  Dennis and Rick drove one of the support cars through DC, while Kate O’Malley, LB Puglisi, Darlene Shenier and I cheered walkers into the finish line.  On the course, MS is BS walkers came out guns a blazin’, coming into the finish as one of the first teams and immediately joining the cheering section thereafter.  Shauna and Becky even had the energy to do a little Cha Cha Slide – talk about fierce!  We danced our way over to the award ceremony, where the team picked up the Hopeful Hikers award for raising $10,000+ before September 15.  As said before, on race day, we had raised over $15,000!

After the awards, we all walked the final 1/5 mile together as a group to the lawn of the Capitol, lead by the group of participants with MS all sporting red shirts, and the other walkers in blue.  We cheered all the way to the finish, shouting “2 Days, 50K, Closer to a Cure!”, smiles all around.  As we crossed the finish and received our medals, we knew that all of our hard work was well worth it and that we couldn’t wait to do it again next year (for round three!)

In closing, I just want to say that as much as my heart is in this fight day in and day out, I cannot wait to celebrate on the day that we never have to walk for MS ever again – the day that we find a cure.  As Ginger Higgins of Team WAMS so eloquently put it in her closing speech on the lawn of the Capitol, “We’ll keep fighting until there is not only a cure, but a cure for each and every person with MS.”

Much love and keep up the fight!

Angela Gunder
Co-Captain of MS is BS

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