Every hour in the United States, someone is newly diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
Each year, the Shippensburg University Homecoming Committee picks a local charity to donate all money earned over the homecoming season. This year, it has chosen the National Multiple Sclerosis Society of Central Pennsylvania.
Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is an autoimmune, unpredictable disease that affects the central nervous system including the brain, optic nerves and the spinal cord. When a person has MS, he or she loses myelin in one or multiple areas, resulting in scar tissue called sclerosis.
While there are typical symptoms of MS, they all are unpredictable, and vary from person to person. A few of the more common symptoms of the disease are fatigue, numbness, vision problems, emotional changes and depression. Some of the less common symptoms include speech changes, headaches, seizures and breathing problems.
The disease affects 2.5 million people in the world but because the symptoms can be invisible, many go undiagnosed. Out of the approximately 400,000 people diagnosed with MS in the United States, twice as many women are struck with the disease as men.
There are four types of MS — relapsing-remitting, secondary-progressive, primary-progressive and progressive-relapsing. There are different types and many different symptoms because no two people diagnosed with MS experience the disease the same.
Tina Bohn, representative of the Central Pennsylvania Chapter of the National MS Society has been working as the campaign coordinator for the society for more than a year and believes that the MS Society is one of the best non-profit groups.
“I have worked for a nonprofit group before and I was constantly referring people to a different number so I never actually got to help people,” Bohn said. “I saw the money come in, I just never saw where it went after.
“The MS Society of Central Pennsylvania helps 30 counties all over central Pennsylvania. Within those 30 counties, there are 6,300 people registered with the society,” she added.
The disease, as mentioned before, is unpredictable.
The MS Society of Central Pennsylvania plans 10 walks, a polo match in Mechanicsburg, a car show, bike MS and Muck Fest. All of the donations help those living with MS and also help nationally with drug funding.
The main office for the society is located in Harrisburg, Pa., but there are also satellite offices in State College and Lancaster.
Homecoming adviser Ashley White explained why the committee has chosen the charity for the 2013 Homecoming.
“During one of our early brainstorming sessions this year, a student who was getting ready to intern with the MS Society of Central Pennsylvania during the summer mentioned we could sponsor them because all of their funds go toward raising awareness and helping those with MS in the Central Pennsylvania region,” White said. “The committee took a vote and the MS Society was the winner. They felt there are many people, including our own Ship students, who suffer from MS and they wanted to help raise awareness and money to help those with the disease.”
Homecoming adviser and graduate assistant David Meckes added along to White’s comments about the committee’s decision for the charity.
“Fundraising for the MS Society helps to raise awareness, not only for our friends and family but for everyone. This charity is working to help change the lives of people and I love being a part of something bigger than me,” Meckes said. “I can’t wait to see the homecoming court fundraise and hopefully break our goal from last year.”
The 10 juniors and seniors on the homecoming court — five males and five females — will raise money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Central Pennsylvania in hopes to both help the cause and win the title of Shippensburg University Homecoming King and Queen.
In previous years, the committee has chosen Women in Need, Better Days Animal League, the Shippensburg local library and the Drew Michael Taylor Foundation.
For more information about the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, visit http://www.nationalmssociety.org/
For more information about the National Multiple Sclerosis Society of Central Pennsylvania, visit http://www.nationalmssociety.org/chapters/pac/index.aspx
For more information about the SU Homecoming Committee, visit http://clubs.ship.edu/suhomecoming/