I Challenge MS: My race for the cure

by Robyn Baldwin, guest blogger

I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis on December 2, 2014 after 24 hours in the hospital. My right side had slowly gone numb and started tingling over the course of a week. I thought I had a pinched nerve in my neck from my many physical pursuits, like weight lifting, training for obstacle course races, yoga and running. It was during my chiropractor sessions and after reviewing family medical history (my father has MS) that I was urged to undergo full neurological exams.

When the numbness and tingling spread to my right leg and foot, I drove myself to the hospital —  all with an excruciating migraine. Twenty-four hours and two MRIs later, my neurologist concluded that I indeed had MS.

I turned to the MS Society of Canada‘s website for information during those first few days after my  diagnosis to research the disease, treatments and exactly what I was going to be faced with. I found out that nearly 100,000 Canadians live with MS. I read about symptoms that I may face, like one morning I may not be able to walk when I wake up, or that I may suddenly have impaired vision, or that my memory may fail me for no apparent reason.

The symptoms of MS are many and vary for everyone. We don’t know the definitive cause, and we don’t yet have a cure. The MS Society funds more than $10 million in research every year to get closer to a cure. For me and for many who live with MS, this means fundraising for the MS Society is an important part of our existence moving forward.

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I am determined not to let MS stop me, let alone slow me down. I truly believe MS is a blessing, as it has caused me to optimize my already healthy diet to fight off this autoimmune disease. I didn’t try to physically push my body too hard when I started training again, but I did want to test my limits. Could I work out, get overheated and still function?

I train at Alpha Obstacle Training in Toronto, and they’ve seen me through injuries and six races since they opened in 2013. In November 2014, just a month before my diagnosis, I set my race goals and schedule for the year; I wanted to complete more than 30 races in 2015. My Alpha family never babied me or questioned whether or not I could meet my goals. A month after my diagnosis, as I emerged from the haze of steroid treatment, I started training again in January 2015.

When I started training again, I sought cooling vests to manage overheating, a symptom of MS. My Alpha family have grabbed ice packs for me after workouts and during races to help me cool off. They have pulled me over walls when my hands get numb and tingly, but they have never treated me as someone with a disability — they simply love that I’m battling alongside them.  I knew I could count on  them to help create our own fundraiser for people living with MS, through the I Challenge MS platform.

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Alpha Obstacle Training hosts an Obstacle Course Race series, and we decided to dedicate the July 11 event to fundraising for MS research and services for people living with the disease. The ALPHA OCR RACE FOR THE CURE in support the MS Society of Canada has a goal to raise $10,000 — we are going all out for this event.

When: July 11, 9am registration

Where: Alpha Obstacle Training, 13R Polson Pier

What: A fun 6km obstacle course race with 13 obstacles

Registration page: http://alphaobstacletraining.com/ocr-3/

Donation Page:  http://mssoc.convio.net/goto/alpharaceforthecure

Even if you don’t want to participate in the race, you can still show your support and make a donation. If we can get 400 people to donate $25 each (the cost of coffee for a week) we will raise $10,000. These are funds that provide support and services to help people living with this disease, their families and caregivers. Donations also fund research with three primary goals: find a cause and cure for MS, repair nerve damage caused by MS and stop or slow disease progression.

And to top it all off, the Shops at Leslie & Lakeshore are also hosting a massive parking lot post-event celebration in collaboration with Soccerworld, Boston Pizza and Canadian Tire. The block party will be taking place at Lakeshore and Leslie from 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm with a portion of the proceeds going to the MS Society of Canada. So you don’t have to run the OCR to join us!

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Jesse Bruce, Alpha’s founder, always says, “We are all part of a team. With a team, ordinary people become extraordinary and take on this world and put a huge dent in it. We can join the army fighting against MS and do something about it!”

We are doing whatever it takes in the fight to end MS. Will you join us?

Robyn Baldwin is the senior integrated marketing manager for Kobo, a former CFL cheerleader and fitness competitor. 

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    Totally amazing Robyn!! So proud of you ALwaYs!! #screamer <3

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