Cabarrus

Mother, daughter and team raise thousands in MS Walk

On Dec. 19, Libby Cline was featured in this column with a daughter and granddaughter. At the end of our interview, Cline mentioned her involvement in the Carolinas Challenge Walk MS.

Another daughter, Denise Kelly, has multiple sclerosis and is an advocate for people dealing with the illness.

Kelly faces health challenges but refuses to be defined by her disease. She has told the story of her diagnosis many times.

While running with friends, she noticed numbness in her right hand. During previous runs, Kelly had ignored the sensation. But this time the numbness progressed to her shoulder, then her shoulder blade. An MRI scan revealed multiple sclerosis.

MS has changed her life. The mother of three was 37 when she got the news in 2007. At first, Kelly grieved about lost health but decided to shed any fears and tackle a new reality.

Her first job was to learn about the disease. Caucasian women of northern European descent in their 30s and 40s are at risk.

Kelly described MS as a disease that affects myelin, the fatty covering of the nerves. As myelin is destroyed during attacks, nerves no longer transmit signals properly.

Multiple sclerosis means multiple scars. They can occur on the brain or spine. Spinal lesions affect a patient's mobility. Some people have vision problems and may have bladder or bowel issues.

Medications slow attacks and the progression of MS, but there is no cure. Kelly injects Interferon every other day into one of eight sites in her body.

"Fatigue with MS can be debilitating, and stress can make it worse," Kelly said. Along with exercise, vitamins and good nutrition, naps help manage her exhaustion.

Kelly joined a support group in Davidson and became a member of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society's Mid-Atlantic Chapter.

For the past three years, mother and daughter have formed a team for the Carolinas Challenge Walk. Teams walk 50 miles in three days. Each member raises $1,500.

Last year Team Kelly contributed more than $10,500. The money funds research for a cure and patient services.

Team Kelly is raising money for the Carolinas Challenge Walk MS March 4-6 in Charleston, S.C. Next Sunday, the team will host a Zumbathon from 2-4 p.m. at the National Guard Armory, 720 N. Broad St., Mooresville.

Lowe's YMCA and Fit Avenue Zumba instructors will lead the Latin-inspired dance exercise. Jewelry, bags and other items will be raffled. Entry is a $20 donation at the door of the nonprofit event.

Kelly and Cline will be exercising during the Zumbathon. It fits into their training regimen: They train together the last few months before a walk and try to complete four miles a day.

According to Cline, determination is the key to finishing.

"Mom's my best cheerleader," said Kelly.

For many families dealing with MS, the walk becomes a family event. Each year Kelly's husband and children arrive on Saturday, volunteer on Sunday and cheer as she crosses the finish line.

Contributions for the Carolinas Challenge Walk hosted by the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society can be made at www.challengeMS.org.

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