The Fayette County community has always been generous when it comes to donating time and resources to so many worthy causes over the years. However, one cause that has rarely been addressed and undertaken is the fight against a disease that affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide — Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
On Sunday, May 21, the cause will be addressed in an “awesome” way thanks to the collaboration of Kathy Patterson, an account executive for WVNU lite 97.5 FM, and Colleen Roundhouse, owner of Awesome Real Estate in Washington C.H.
The first-ever “Awesome MS Charity Car Show” will be held that day with all of the raised proceeds donated to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Ohio Valley Chapter. Registration will occur from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on May 21 with the show and judging from 12-2.
For Patterson, the cause is a personal one due to being diagnosed with MS 22 years ago. For Roundhouse, her friendship with Patterson inspired her to take up the cause.
“I have been looking for a way to give something back to the community that has given so much to me,” said Roundhouse. “So that’s how it all started. I was looking for a cause and after talking to Kathy, we talked about how there isn’t much awareness out there about MS.”
MS is a chronic, unpredictable disease of the central nervous system, which is made up of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. It is thought to be an immune-mediated disorder in which the immune system incorrectly attacks healthy tissue in the central nervous system.
MS can cause many symptoms, including blurred vision, loss of balance, poor coordination, slurred speech, tremors, numbness, extreme fatigue, problems with memory and concentration, paralysis, blindness and more. These problems may come and go or persist and worsen over time. Most people are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, although individuals as young as 2 and as old as 75 have developed it.
Although Patterson was diagnosed 22 years ago, she said doctors believe she’s had the disease for approximately 28 years.
“It’s a difficult thing to diagnose,” said Patterson. “I do fairly well with it and I certainly don’t like to complain about it. Not a lot of people do as well as I do with it. A lot of mine is my brain, I have 13 lesions in my brain. It bothers my eyes, which can make it difficult to drive. I figured out that something was wrong when my eye went cross for about six months. But it also affects my legs and my speech, which can be the most embarrassing.”
Patterson said developing a variety of ways to compensate is key in managing MS.
“Everybody with MS has something different because it depends on where the lesions are in your brain,” she said. “It’s really not your muscles, it’s the nerve telling the muscle. For example, if you take an electrical cord and you cut a piece out, sometimes it arcs. So that message doesn’t go where it needs to go because its arcing. That’s what happens when you have lesions…it’s a place for it to arc. Like sometimes I can think of a word but my mouth doesn’t know how to say it. But I know the word. It’s in here, it just won’t come out.”
Patterson has become adept at masking many of her symptoms. She said she never wants to hear pity for what she goes through on a day-to-day basis.
“Every single day it’s something, some days worse than others,” she said. “But I am good at hiding it. The days that are really bad, I typically don’t leave the house. There have been times where my legs don’t take me where I need to go. I know of at least a handful of other people in Fayette County who have MS. But a lot of people don’t want others to know. And the reason is people will pity you. They’re like, ‘Aww, how are you?’ Don’t do that to me, I can cope with it.”
The possibility of social stigmatization can also play a role as to why many who suffer from MS keep it to themselves, especially when it comes to employment.
“If you’re looking for employment, some may not employ you because you have a disease and they don’t know how it’s going to impact your performance,” said Patterson, who also worked as an ad representative for the Record-Herald for many years. “Speaking for myself, I’d rather you know I have MS so when I talk really funny or I forget something, you kind of understand and you know that I’m having a hard day. The hardest thing was having to quit my job at the paper because of it….because of the stress.”
Patterson has taken an injection once a week for 19 years to help with her condition.
“It has done very well for me and my doctor is very happy with the results,” she said. “I’m usually sick on Sundays because I take it then, so I usually don’t go many places on Sundays. But I’m very proactive and I do what I need to do. Keeping a positive attitude is key.”
Patterson said she’s grateful to Roundhouse for holding the car show on the Awesome Real Estate lot, located at 2782 US Route 22 Northwest, in order to raise awareness and make donations to a great cause. Pre-registration for the car show is $15 and registration the day of the show is $20. Donations made to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society are tax-deductible.
To pre-register or with any questions, call 740-636-8209.
Judges will choose the top three cars and the public will have the opportunity to purchase tickets to cast votes for the top three “crowd favorites,” said Roundhouse. All participants will receive participation ribbons. Three trophies will be awarded from judges and three plaques will be awarded from crowd favorites.
Food booths and water will be available at the event and DJ Charlie McCoy will be on hand for the music. Tickets will also be available for a Chinese auction.
“It’s going to be a fun event,” said Roundhouse. “We’re also going to have bounce houses, face painting and t-shirts for sale. We’re encouraging everyone to come out for a great car show, a great time and contributing to a great cause.”
Reach Ryan Carter at 740-313-0352 or on Twitter @rywica