MS Canada seeks nationwide participation in awareness month

Country has one of world’s highest MS rates, association says

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by Mary Chapman |

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Multiple hands come together in a circle.

Canada has one of the world’s highest rates of multiple sclerosis (MS) in the world, and this month residents are being urged to come together to raise awareness of and funds for people affected by the neurodegenerative disorder.

May is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month in Canada, and MS Canada is inviting supporters to participate in any of a number of ways. More than 90,000 residents live with the disease, according to MS Canada, and some 12 individuals, on average, are diagnosed daily.

“This May, join the MS community as we navigate MS together, raising awareness on the complexities and realities that MS brings to the person living with it as well as their friends and family,” the organization says in a press release. “Join us in advocating on behalf of the MS community to have equal access to care, prioritize MS research exploring pathways to cures, and access to social programs that improve quality of life.”

On May 1, supporters can use social media to help raise awareness through MS Canada’s digital carnation pinning campaign. The effort calls for sharing a selfie with a provided graphic or poster featuring a carnation and the caption, “May is Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Awareness Month. Today, I share this digital carnation to #TakeActionForMS and show my support for all Canadians affected by MS. Together with @mscanofficial, we can make a world free of MS a reality.”

The MS Canada carnation campaign was launched in 1975 to raise funds and awareness. Since then, carnations have evolved from bouquets to stickers to digital symbols, becoming widely recognized symbols of hope in Canada for an MS cure.

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Another way to participate in the month is by calling on the government to prioritize multiple sclerosis research funding. Supporters may send a letter of support to their members of Parliament.

There is also the organization’s May 50K event, which runs throughout the month. Participants may run, walk, or roll in a wheelchair or other device to complete 50 kilometers at the time and place of their choosing. Individuals and teams may join to raise funds toward the CA$625,000 ($454,000) goal, with funds going to MS research and efforts to improve treatment access.

“As someone who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2020, I am no stranger to how overwhelming an MS journey can feel,” said Karen Jacoby, MS Canada ambassador. “I volunteer during MS Awareness Month because I am driven by hope — and I encourage everyone to consider supporting the community, as I know firsthand the power that having other people demonstrating public support has had on my MS journey.”

On May 26, Canadians will come together for the organization’s annual MS Walk. This year, participants will gather in more than 50 communities nationwide to help raise CA$4 million ($2.9 million) to improve life for those with MS. Walk locations include Vancouver, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Ottawa, Edmonton, Toronto, Halifax, and Calgary.

“MS Walk brings the MS community and their network, including caregivers, friends, and family, all together for one day of collective action, moving us one step closer to a world free of MS,” said Pamela Valentine, PhD, MS Canada president and CEO.

For World MS Day on May 30, MS Canada is asking patients and family members to share stories about their MS diagnosis journeys to underscore how MS affects each individual differently and to help people better understand how to support those with the disease. Diagnosis is the event’s global 2024-2025 theme.

“MS Awareness Month is defined by active and meaningful participation,” Valentine said. “This May, we invite everyone to help us bring attention to the prevalence of the disease and need for support. There are many ways to join the MS community. You can volunteer with MS Canada, share accurate MS information on social media, or participate in the May 50K or MS Walk.”