Walk MS Brings Hope for a Cure to Westchester

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Cheerful participants start out on the Walk MS Westchester's 3-mile course across Pace University's scenic Pleasantville campus. Photo Credit: Liz Button
Adriana Rivera and Bianka Ortiz walked for team Belles and Beaus. Ortiz was diagnosed with MS last year and Sunday was her first walk. "I have MS, but MS doesn't have me," she said. Photo Credit: Liz Button
News 12 anchor Lisa LaRocca gives walkers an enthusiastic send-off. Photo Credit: Liz Button
Members of fundraising team The Fireflies, whose slogan is "Shedding light on MS." Photo Credit: Liz Button
Team "Our Family Cares" was established seven years ago by high school student Stephanie Corcoran, whose mother and other family members suffer from MS. Photo Credit: Liz Button
The Westchester Beemers set off from the walk's starting line for a 125- mile ride to benefit multiple sclerosis research. The fundraising group, started in 2003, is made up of riders whose families and friends have been affected by the disease. Photo Credit: Liz Button
National Multiple Sclerosis Society spokesperson Jenny You gives out last-minute safety instructions to walkers. Photo Credit: Liz Button
Elizabeth Goldman-Sider and her mother Roberta (who is unaffected by the disease) brought canine pal Everest to the race. Goldman-Sider was diagnosed with MS in 1996. She is also a pancreatic cancer survivor. Photo Credit: Liz Button
Terry and Nicole McAneny of New Rochelle, brought their children Ava, 4, and Thomas, 10 months, with them to walk for the Beth Abe Optimists. Photo Credit: Liz Button

PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y.--It was a beautiful day for a walk.

Walk MS Westchester brought hundreds to Pace University on a sunny spring Sunday for an event to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis, an unpredictable, often debilitating disease of the central nervous system.

Stephanie Corcoran has been organizing team “Our Family Cares” since she was 10 years old. Her mother, Kathy, her maternal uncle and an aunt all have the disease.

Now a senior at Valhalla High School, Corcoran was there to rally the team for the seventh time. “I want to make a difference and find a cure,” she said.

News 12 anchor Lisa LaRocca was there to address the crowd at the Pfizer-sponsored fundraising and awareness-building event.

“We are going to find a cure because of people like you,” she said. “Your dedication and your drive and your passion when it comes to stamping out MS is truly inspiring.”

Close to 11,000 walkers participated in the weekend’s event, which was organized by the New York City-Southern New York Chapter of the National MS Society. Held in seven locations across the lower Hudson Valley and the five boroughs of New York, the walks were expected to raise $3 million from supporters.

According to the society, there are critical strides being made in MS research, which is one of the reasons why it is so important to support the effort to find a cure. The disease causes symptoms that range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. New medications on the market have begun to make a difference in some people’s lives.

Bianka Ortiz of team Belles and Beaus, said a new medicine, Ampyra, has helped her. Ortiz who is from Yonkers, was diagnosed with MS. She said she no longer walks with a leg brace and has not seen any relapses since she began the treatment.

“It’s hard but we stick together,” she said, noting the steadfast support of her wife Adriana Rivera and her daughter, Kamelia, 19.  

Elizabeth Goldman-Sider, 39, of Armonk, was at the walk with her mother, Roberta, and her dog, Everest. Her team, the Movers and Schleppers, is one of the top fundraisers every year, she said.

Goldman-Sider was diagnosed with MS in 1996 while in her third year of law school, but went on to launch a career at the Bronx DA’s office. A lawyer, stay-at-home mom and yoga teacher, she also is a pancreatic cancer survivor.

After weathering so much, she said, humor and her children are what help her to go on. While it can be difficult, keeping up hope is a choice that takes strength.

“You can choose to stay in bed, or you can choose to get up and put your big girl pants on,” she said.

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