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Racing to raise cash for multiple sclerosis sufferers

Participants at last year’s Making Miles charity run in Daejeon. (Shawn Hudson)
Participants at last year’s Making Miles charity run in Daejeon. (Shawn Hudson)
A 10k and a 5k race are to be held in Daejeon to raise funds to help sufferers of MS in Korea.

The runs will be held along the banks of the Gapcheon River from 1 p.m. on Saturday Nov. 5 with around 150 runners expected to take part.

Runners will be charged a 25,000 won entry fee to go toward the Miles for MS charity, which has organized the races along with the Daejeon Diablos running group.

All funds raised throughout the day will go to the Korean Multiple Sclerosis Society which helps support the 2,000 sufferers registered with the group as well as raising awareness of the condition here. Although there are thousands of known MS sufferers in Korea, the KMSS believes that there are many more people missing out on treatment because they have not yet been diagnosed.

Multiple Sclerosis is a non-hereditary disease in which the fatty myelin sheaths that surround the axons in the brain and spinal cord are damaged. This adversely affects the ability of those nerves to then communicate with one another.

There is currently no known cure, with treatments focusing on lessening the symptoms that range from a weakened immune system to loss of eyesight, motor skills, or even complete paralysis.

English teacher Shawn Hudson, 32, whose mother suffers from the disease, set up the Miles for MS charity with his wife, Maury, on arriving in Korea in 2010 because he wanted to continue raising funds for research and to support MS sufferers here.

“My Mom’s been dealing with MS for 25 years -- in and out of hospitals, waking up numb, partially blind or with memory loss,” he said.

“It’s a terribly serious disease, but despite it, she’s always continued to give and work hard for her family.”

Miles for MS organizes athletic events to raise money and awareness for non-profit groups researching a cure for Multiple Sclerosis, or providing social work, or lobbying for more streamlined, effective medical legislation in regards to treating neurological diseases.

“The KMSS, in particular, faces a large, uphill battle. It runs a large support group and social network for MS sufferers in Korea and also spends a portion of its funds lobbying for better research and to raise awareness.

”The reason it needs to lobby is because MS is still very much in the proverbial shadows here in Korea. It’s eclipsed by other diseases in people’s minds. I was told last year that MS is still often misdiagnosed here.

“Koreans know more about Lupus than they do Multiple Sclerosis, which might seem backward to a Westerner, where MS has been spotlighted now for many years.”

Hudson organized the first Miles for MS run in December last year, raising just over 2 million won.

He said: “This year, the race promises to be bigger and better than ever.

“The first event in 2010 raised just over $2,000 and that was with only 37 runners. I knew the next event could be huge, by comparison, so we made a plan to increase attendance.”

Following the run, Miles for MS will host an awards banquet with a vegetarian-friendly Mexican buffet at the Daejeon Cantina at 3:30pm.

Four trophies will be handed out to winners of the runs, as well as T-shirts, towels and entry into a draw to win a pair of Vibram Five Fingers shoes and meals at Santa Claus Pub.

There will then be a party at the Yellow Taxi Bar in Daejeon with entertainment starting at 9 p.m. from Rob Roy, Feed the Boats, Donnie Narko and DJ Masabra.

A small percentage of the drink orders from that night will go to support KMSS, in addition to proceeds from a poker and darts tournament that will kick-start the night.

For more information, go to www.makingmiles.com or e-mail: makingmiles365@gmail.com.

By Kirsty Taylor (kirstyt@heraldcorp.com)
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