Meadville Tribune

May 20, 2013

Fighting multiple sclerosis one step at a time

By Konstantine Fekos
Meadville Tribune

VERNON TOWNSHIP — The Western Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society crossed the finish line of a successful 2013 event season with its Meadville MS Walk in Roche Park on Sunday afternoon, according to organizers and participants.

Approximately 150 people turned out in support of of the annual event, designed to raise funding for MS programs and research to fight the chronic, often disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system.

Local participants, mainly sporting orange T-shirts, spent more than an hour walking, running or pushing strollers and wheelchairs down the park trail with the option to walk up to three miles.

“We had a good turnout; probably twice as many people as last year,” said Colleen Szymczak-Gross, associate development manager for the chapter. “It’s a pretty strong comeback.”

With growing local support, Szymczak-Gross is confident the chapter will reach its $15,000 goal.

“We had about $5,000 turned in beforehand,” she said. “I’ve got a good feeling.”

Helping on the homefront once again is Meadville Area Middle School teacher Carolyn Brown, credited on the National MS Society website as surpassing the $500 Fundraising Milestone and actively raising awareness and promoting involvement in the community.

Collectively, Brown and a group of middle-school students helped raise approximately $1,070.

“We kind of did it as a whole,” Brown explained. “We put out information around Crawford Central (School District), we had a Hoss’s Community Day and students fundraised during lunchtime. Then it was just individual sponsors who donated by request.”

The team MAMS Fights MS is listed as one of the top fundraising teams on the National MS Society website.

Brown has also spent the past three years walking for the same team, Kilometers for Kathy, representing area resident and event participant Kathy Dell’Antonio, whose family is credited with integrating Brown in the annual walks.

“I love the fact more people are getting involved in the event,” Dell’Antonio said.

Preparation and marketing for the 2014 walk season is expected to begin this fall with the first walk kicking off next April.

The Western Pennsylvania Chapter has held local walking events since 1988 and has raised more than $10 million to help support local individuals living with MS. The chapter services 26 counties in the region, according to Szymczak-Gross.

“We are a local chapter of the national organization, so we do service local people,” she said. “The money we raise stays here.”

For more information or to get involved, visit

Konstantine Fekos can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at