It’s been 17 years since the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada commenced its first charity walk in Scarborough and one long-time participant continues to hit the trail.
Scarborough’s annual MS walk was set to attract hundreds of people Sunday morning. The five-kilometre walk and fundraiser aims to bring awareness to MS and raise money for people living with it.
I can walk — and I can walk for the people that can’t walk. And I’m happy I can do it.
— Connie Hubbarde
Connie Hubbarde, now in her 70s, has participated in the annual walk since the 1990s after the diagnosis of her daughter, Karen Hubbarde, 54.
Like many families that deal with a diagnosis of MS, Hubbard says she knew very little about the disease. She did extensive research on MS and started taking part in the annual walk.
“Since I got interested in reading about [MS] I said ‘that’s one thing I can do,’ I can walk — and I can walk for the people that can’t walk. And I’m happy I can do it.”
Hubbarde says she has raised about $1,500 this year. She says the amount of money she has raised over the years has increased from hundreds to thousands as her neighbours have become familiar with her and her cause.
“I go [fundraise] in my community; people on my street know me now even if I only see them once a year. Over the past few years I have averaged over a thousand [dollars]. I make it my goal and it’s always over.”
Hubbarde says today her daughter’s condition has improved. Still, the walks have become an opportunity for her to reconnect with friends met during her painful fight with MS.
“[I] get together with other people who are in the same boat. About five years ago I was walking with this girl, we were walking the same pace, we started talking and now each year we meet here,” she said. “I only see her once a year but we’re like old friends now.”
Carmela Rustico, a volunteer coordinator for the walk, says the event is a great way for families affected by the disease to do what they can to work together to fund studies to find a cure.
“We have a mixture of people that are suffering from MS, or that are affected through their family. Most of them are people that are here supporting because they have a friend or they have a family member that’s in some kind of pain from the MS,” Rustico said. “It is a great event because people are raising the money and it is going to a great cause that is going to raise awareness as well as try to find a cure.”
The idea of giving back is what Hubbarde likes best about the event.
“It’s nice to think you’re going to be doing something worthwhile. [My daughter] got help from the organization, so it’s like me paying back for other people to get the help that she got.”