Kathie Jarzombek was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 2011, and on Sunday, May 4, she will take part in Walk MS, the largest annual fundraiser of the National MS Society, Greater Illinois Chapter. She will be walking at the McHenry Country location, Sunset Park (Albrecht Road & Miller Road) in Lake in the Hills, Ill. — one of 11 Walk MS sites statewide. Registration opens at 7:30 a.m., and the Walk begins at 9 a.m. Walk MS brings people together to celebrate the progress and powerful connections made in the movement to end MS and to raise funds for critical MS research, programs and services.
Although Jarzombek was only recently diagnosed, MS has played a role in her life for some time. Her cousin and co-worker are both living with MS, and her uncle passed away from MS complications in 1992. Jarzombek also started experiencing symptoms long before she was diagnosed, but she didn’t know the reason for them.
“I now have a name [attributed] to the things I have been feeling for 20 plus years,” said Jarzombek of her MS diagnosis. “With that name, I now know when to listen to my body, when to call the doctor, when to rest and when I can push through it as I did before the diagnosis.”
She first participated in Walk MS in 2011 — prior to her own diagnosis — to support a co-worker who was living with MS. She had no idea that the next time she laced up her shoes for the event, she would be walking for herself.
“It is a frightening diagnosis,” said Jarzombek. “The most important thing is to try and keep a positive attitude. Your life is not over; it is a new normal. Have a good cry and then start fighting.”
Jarzombek believes in using her diagnosis to learn more about herself and to teach others about MS — that’s why she does the Walk. She will be leading her corporate team, Team Union, as they join thousands of other participants statewide and hundreds at the McHenry location for Walk MS 2014. Together they hope to raise money and awareness that will bring them closer to their goal of a world free of MS.
“There are so many people directly or indirectly affected by MS,” said Jarzombek. “For one day, so many people come together for a common goal — we all want to find a cure.”
Last year, more than 12,000 people participated in Walk MS throughout Illinois, raising over $2.7 million for critical MS research, programs and services.
“I believe that before a cure can be found we need to find the cause,” Jarzombek explained. “There is very little actually known about this disease because of its individualized nature. Questions need answering, and the only way we are able to answer them is with research funds made possible through everyone that walks.”
To find out more about Walk MS 2014 or to register or donate online, contact Samantha Edidin at 312.423.1156 or at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit walkMSillinois.org.
Multiple Sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease that interrupts the flow of information in the central nervous system, which includes the brain, spinal cord and optic nerve. The Greater Illinois Chapter mobilizes people and resources to drive research for a cure and to address the challenges of more than 20,000 individuals in Illinois and 2.3 million worldwide affected by MS.
For more information, visit MSillinois.org.