With the spread of the COVID-19 virus resulting in a need for a more remote lifestyle, a damper has been put on many public events. However, it isn’t always necessary to completely cancel social gatherings and occasions. As many companies move toward remote work, people are exploring remote events beyond business. For example, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society recently moved all their Walk MS events to happen as completely virtual experiences—and participants like Inga Cashon aren’t letting this slow them down!
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease that targets the central nervous system and is oftentimes disabling. Even with no currently known cure for MS, there are organizations researching a way to end MS forever—organizations like Walk MS.
Walk MS is a nationwide campaign created to draw awareness to people affected by MS and to raise money toward finding a cure. Walk MS has been bringing people together across the United States to raise money for research to help end multiple sclerosis since it was created in 1988 by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. It is currently held in more than 550 locations involving upwards of 330,000 people each year and has raised more than 920 million dollars towards MS research and providing resources to people with MS.
The Walk MS events ask for participants to walk fully accessible routes that range from one to three miles and are staffed with dedicated volunteers to help with any issues that might arise. Participants can organize teams for these walks and find sponsors to help with the fundraising. These walks also help connect those afflicted by this disease and their loved ones with others in the multiple sclerosis community.
Our #walkMS which is now #virtualwalkMS t-shirts came in! I designed the shirts on @customink, but saw the quote on a student’s t-shirt and on a gift I got at Christmas! Fitting! 🧡 pic.twitter.com/uZv8M35mSN
— Mrs. Cashon (@MrsCashon) March 19, 2020
Since being diagnosed with the disease in November 2019, Inga Cashon has been busy educating herself about living with MS. In spite of the overwhelming amount of information she had to learn since then, she found out that a Walk MS event was scheduled to take place in Savannah, Georgia not far from where she lived. She immediately signed up her husband and herself with the intent to help raise funds and to meet other people diagnosed or involved with MS.
With a team to represent at the Walk MS event, Inga needed a way to best showcase their spirit. Having seen teams with matching custom gear at other public fundraising events like Walk MS, Inga wanted to create custom t-shirts for her and her husband. After previous positive experiences with Custom Ink, she created a personal design specifically for the Walk MS event. With the quote “Be a WARRIOR, not a WORRIER!” Inga’s shirt was meant to inspire others living with MS. Now that she had her team together with their custom matching shirts, Inga was all ready for the MS Walk!
Unfortunately, COVID-19 happened. While Walk MS has always offered a “Virtual Walk” option for participants, this year the Virtual Walk is officially the only way to take part in Walk MS. However, this isn’t slowing down Inga or the thousands of others signed up for Walk MS. The Virtual Walk allows teams to sync up online and get in those steps by whatever works best for them—whether it’s walking around the block or at home on a treadmill. Walk MS set up a hashtag on social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram for #virtualwalkMS. Now, participants everywhere can still connect with each other over the internet and keep on raising money and awareness for MS.
The ability to participate in Walk MS remotely is important for the MS community. Because many people with MS have compromised immune systems due to the medications they must take to fight MS, they are put at higher risk for contracting coronavirus. With the #virtualwalkMS, no one is put at risk—and no one is left out.
Even remotely, the Walk MS event has helped Inga as she navigates adjusting to life with MS. “Since I am new to this, this would have been my first Walk MS. What I have learned is that the MS community is a strong support system and each person’s story is different! Some MS patients have been dealing with the “new normal” for years now as they have lower immune systems,” says Inga. Fortunately, even with the need to move the event to the internet, MS Walk team leaders like Inga prove that you can still be social while social distancing.