Sunday, March 24, 2013

Join Our Team for the MS Walk in Salt Lake City April 26

Dear Friends (and enemies, acquaintances, family members, ex-family members, churchy-types, not-churchy-types, Facebook friends, Tweeps, Muppet freaks, stalkers, former students, random people who stumble across it...)

Please Join Our Team.

My wife Melissa (who you may know or may not, depending on which category you fall into above) was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, or MS, nine years ago. For those of you that don't know what it is, the short version is that your body attacks your own central nervous system, destroying the myelin "insulation" that covers the nerves of your spinal cord and brain. You can get a better understanding of the different kinds of MS here:'s a pretty simple description of it.

I have to say, that with the many different ways that MS can hurt someone, we've been fortunate. Melissa's biggest symptom right now seems to be fatigue. That doesn't sound so bad, and there are certainly effects of MS that would be harder to deal with. Essentially, she's in bed more than she wants to be. Some days that's okay, other days it's very frustrating for her. She still manages to work her job (which she loves) up at the VA Hospital in Salt Lake City, 20 hours a week. She still manages to do things like help get the boys to their soccer games, and help other people with things that they need. But sometimes we need help too, even when we don't know how to ask for it.

In 2011 we decided to sign up for the Salt Lake City MS Walk for the first time. We had about twenty family members and friends and co-workers who did it with us. It was a fairly cold April morning, and as we were driving downtown, we were worried that we'd dragged people into something that was going to be miserable. It turns out that the three mile walk was a lot of fun. Starting at the Gateway, the route loops up into the Marmalade District, and then back down to the Gateway. And there are thousands of people walking with you.

(pictures by my friend Sean Hansen, who happened to be out taking pictures of downtown that day)

(Another picture by Sean Hansen) (Cool, right?) (I know)

Each year, we've tried to get more people to come, and we've added about 20 people each year. Our goal is much more to support Melissa more than to raise money.  Last year we had about 60 people walking with us, and we raised about $900 in donations.  Which was great.  We dressed up like heroes--Melissa was Batgirl, I was Aquaman, the boys were Finn from "Adventure Time" and Robin, because Carter likes being the sidekick instead of the superhero. Less pressure.

So here's the deal. We really try not to talk about the MS thing too often. Sometimes it's too sad, sometimes I feel like it's just frustrating for people, because when they say "what can I do..." there's really nothing they can do. Well, this month there's something you can do. Sign up for our team for the MS Walk.

How you do it: Go to  ....that takes you directly to Melissa's team, which is called "CAPED CRUSADERS." At the top of the team roster is a link that says "JOIN TEAM." Click on it, and sign up. The walk is April 26th, at 10:00 AM. We'll probably be down there at about 9:00 AM, and I think we're meeting in the area of the fountain towards the north end of the Gateway. We're going to wear capes instead of being superheroes again, because any excuse to wear a cape, you know?

There's no entry fee, there's no gathering pledges or sponsors. You can donate money to the cause of course, but it's not required. We're not buying the T-shirts for our team--if you wanted to buy the t-shirt, instead take that ten bucks and donate it. For our family, it's more about raising awareness than money. Whether you realize it or not, you do know someone that has MS. There's a lot of effort going into finding a cure. There are currently medications available that help treat the symptoms and slow the progression of the disease, but no cure. We're optimistic that someday, thanks to efforts like the MS Walk, there will be a cure someday.

Your Excuses:

1) "Well, I don't really feel like you want ME to join your team..." I do. I really do. If you feel like we're not close enough that I'd want to see you there on Saturday, you're wrong. That kind of support, from anyone, means a lot to me. If you know me well enough to still be reading this, you know the kind of jerk I am, on the surface, and for about fifty layers beneath that. Somewhere, deep inside, I'll appreciate it, more than I'll ever be able to express. Because I have Issues.

2) "I already have something that Saturday..." I'm sure you do. But you can GET OUT OF THAT by coming and doing THIS! I'm partially kidding with that. We're all very busy, we have a lot of stuff going on. If you can't make it down there for a few hours on a Saturday morning, I understand. You should know that A) it really was fun last year, and B) you get that good feeling/brownie points with the deity of your choice, and C) it's kind of a fun walk through a part of Salt Lake City that most people haven't even seen. That last part is for you architecture/urban planning nerds in the audience.

3) "I don't even live in Utah, you idiot..." Ah-HAAA! If you don't live in the Beehive State, you really should. It's not as bad as you think. Except for all the bees. And by bees, I mean Mormons. Not really. I mean, there are a lot of them. Us. Whatever. IF YOU DON'T LIVE IN UTAH, I suggest the following course of action: A) there's probably an MS Walk that's close to you. You could sign up for that, and the karmic support will be like a burning lamp that lights my very soul. Or, you can just tell me you signed up for it. I'm not going to know. B) you can donate to the Caped Crusaders team by going to this link and clicking on the orange "Donate to Melissa" button on the far right thermometer-looking thing on the page. Honestly, we're not doing it for the money. We set a goal of $500 for the whole team, but it's really more about the support. For those of you that are out of state, this could be a way to show that support. Five bucks. Ten bucks. If you're going to donate more than that, then I'll just say that Quinnmas (my birthday) is June 12th, and I really like LEGO and Muppets.

4) "I already signed up for the MS Walk with a different team..." That's awesome. I'm glad you did. And I'm saddened because that means you probably know someone else with MS. Support them. Stop by our little team on Saturday and say hi. Don't hug me or anything. I can't handle that.

I think that's kind of it. If you have other questions or concerns, you can either e-mail me or send me a message on Facebook or Twitter or whatever. Your support would really mean a lot to me, to Melissa, to my boys. I really really hate MS. If there's anything we can do to stop it, it'd be nice to have some help.