Mt. Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church, located on Bonnetsville Road in Clinton, will hold a walk-a-thon next month to raise funds for the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation (MSF), an effort that is close to their hearts since one of their own suffers from the disease.
Dorcas Beatty, a member of the church for 18 years and the organizer of the walk-a-thon, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in August of 2003.
“I’ve had it now for 10 years,” Beatty shared, explaining that she has nine lesions on her brain but is doing well despite that, something her doctors are baffled by.
“They don’t understand why I’m still standing,” said Beatty, describing the medical staff’s reaction during a recent doctor’s appointment. “They really didn’t know how I made it across the parking lot.”
Beatty shared that her older sister also struggled with MS and passed away from complications with the disease in 2011. “That really stirred up my heart to do something,” noted Beatty of her passion to help others like herself and her sister.
While her sister’s MS-related death has left Beatty a little uncertain about her own health, she shared that “I have this saying — ‘I have MS but MS doesn’t have me’ — and I’ve held onto that.”
“Some days are dreary” with MS, Beatty added “but the good outweighs the bad.”
Beatty is passionate about the upcoming walk-a-thon because she knows firsthand about the variety of assistance that MSF can provide.
“MSF helps individuals with the disease to obtain a better life as they deal with the disease. It helps improve their quality of life,” informed Beatty. “For no charge, MSF will issue items like computers, canes, walkers, and wheelchairs for individuals with MS.”
Personally, MSF has helped Beatty by providing her with a cooling vest. “With MS, you get hot and we’re not supposed to go out in the heat. The vest helps to keep my body temperature cool.”
Beatty also shared MSF offers “materials of support” such as magazines and updates on the disease. “I get the ‘MS Focus’ (magazine) and I get to read about people all over the country who have MS.”
Mostly importantly, MSF helped Beatty afford her costly medication. While MSF does not provide medicine, they “pointed me in the right direction years ago to the right organization so that I can get my medicine for free,” said Beatty, adding that if not for MSF’s help, her monthly injections of medicine could cost her $1,200.
According to Beatty, MSF goes above and beyond for MS patients and their caretakers. “It’s a fantastic organization. They even provide assistance for your caretaker,” she noted. “They’ll give you opportunities to take your caretaker out to dinner.”
In addition to raising money for such a helpful foundation, Beatty also wanted to organize a MS event to help raise awareness in the community.
“I don’t think this community is very aware of MS. I know we’re aware of the different variations of cancer,” said Beatty, referencing Sampson County’s annual Relay for Life event. “I think MS is a hidden disease in the community.”
“I don’t know of very many here who have MS,” continued Beatty, mentioning that her efforts to start a support group a few years ago drew little interest. “The population for it may not be that great here which is a good thing, but I want to use this event to help pinpoint those who do have MS in Sampson County. I want to see who my partners are in this disease and I’d like to offer my personal support to them and maybe that will lead to the creation of a support group.”
And Beatty knows how much support can mean, pointing out that her church family has been there for her through her battle with MS.
“My church has been so supportive,” praised Beatty. “They do what they can to make sure that I lead as stress free a lifestyle as possible. Whatever they can do to help, they do.”
According to Beatty, this isn’t the first time that the church has joined her in raising funds for MSF. Three years ago, the church held a fundraiser luncheon which, with 100 people in attendance, raised about $2,000.
This year’s fundraiser — a walk-a-thon — will be held Saturday, Sept. 7, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Royal Lane Park.
“This is another opportunity for me and my church to give back,” noted Beatty. “From time to time, I like to do this because it is also a way to give our church another face in the community. It’s like a mission project.”
The walk-a-thon will begin with a welcome and devotion. Then around 8:30 a.m. walkers will take to the track.
Interested persons can pre-register for the walk by calling the church at 910-564-6630. The church can also provide more information about the walk and answer any questions.
If people miss pre-registration, Beatty said not to worry as walkers can also register on the day of the walk for $10 per walker.
Although it is not mandatory, the church is asking walkers to help them reach their $5,000 goal by seeking out sponsors. The church also suggests that walkers be at least 10 years old.
In the event of rain, the walk-a-thon will be rescheduled before the end of the year.
“It’s going to be a fun, challenging and hilarious event for the whole family,” shared Beatty, adding that she can’t wait to see all of the age groups out walking.
“There will be delicious food vendors, and it’s like an exercise event,” Beatty added. “I encourage everyone that can to please come out, participate in the walk, and support MSF.”
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.