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Folsom family fights MS with feet on street

April 28 walk to be held at Folsom Premium Outlets
By: Laura Newell, Telegraph staff writer
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FOLSOM CA - A Folsom family will support the efforts for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) research through walking in a team, after dealing with the diagnosis at home. Walk MS 2012 to benefit the National MS Society, Northern California Chapter will be Saturday, April 28 starting at the Folsom Premium Outlets. Proceeds raised will fund innovative programs and services and research for the 84,000 Northern Californians affected by MS. The walk will bring together more than 8,000 walkers from over 40 counties in Northern California. Each walk offers a 5k route with a 1 mile option. Rest stops are available every 1 to 1.5 miles with water, snacks and places to rest. After crossing the finish line a celebration will take place including refreshments, camaraderie and live entertainment. One local Folsom family will be participating in the walk to support a family member who was recently diagnosed. Craig Carter, of Folsom since 1988, was diagnosed with MS in January 2003. He said the transition after being diagnosed was difficult and life changing for both him and his family. “It has totally changed my life because it forced me into retirement two years later. I was 50, when I had to retire,” Carter said. “It just took me out of my work and the life that I expected because I was so young.” Carter, a retired CPA, said today however, he has adapted to life with MS. “In 2012, I can look back now and be OK with retirement,” Carter said. “I have done a significant amount of traveling and stayed active in my community which has been very helpful.” Carter stays very active in different activities including being on a wheelchair basketball team, traveling to visit his family around the nation, help small businesses with accounting needs and volunteer work. He has volunteered as the controller for the Girl Scouts of America in Folsom for several years. As a controller, he handled all of the finances. “Staying active helps break up the monotone life of doing nothing,” he said. To keep healthy, he started taking yoga at the senior center in Folsom soon after his diagnosis. “It really helped me mentally and physically,” he said. “Physically it helped with the mobility issues, but mentally it allowed me to have something to look forward to and to have an interaction with people. Any interaction I could get, gave me some pleasures because I needed to be around people. “The reality is, I am no different than anyone else, I just can’t walk,” Carter said. “So whatever anybody’s needs or desires are, I have the same thing, I just don’t walk. So, that benefit from yoga, everyone can have. I was just thrown into this life change.” Carter’s daughter, Wendy Webster, said after her father was diagnosed, it was a change for the entire family. “Everything has changed in our family. It’s so hard to see someone you love change so drastically,” Webster said. “He loved to go camping outdoors and play with his grandkids, but now he is not able to do these things as easily. It’s the little things that you have to remember have changed.” She said her family’s message is simply one of hope. “I hope this is a message of hope that even when life throws you a hardship, it can be overcome,” she said. “There are places and people who want to help and can help get you through these things.” Today, Carter said one of his favorite activities is hand cycling around Folsom. Cater, a father of six and grandfather of 14, said he also learned the importance of time and spending extra moments with family. “My MS has affected me physically, I can’t walk,” Carter said. “Initially my legs would start going to sleep when I walked my dogs. After I went home and sat, they would be fine. The numbness was the beginning, and started in 1998. I went from numbness and walking, to using walking poles, and in 2008 I went into a wheelchair.” He said must of the early frustration was loosing his driving privileges for a few months after going into a wheelchair. But, today he has hand controls to allow him to drive myself. “The mobility is critical, being able to get out and take my dog on a walk or go to the grocery store is critical,” he said. “I don’t even think about the wheelchair, because I have ways to get around. Now I am able to safely get around and stay active in my community. Also today, airlines are very supportive, so I can fly anywhere all around the world.” He said having a supportive family was a key ingredient in dealing with the life-changing diagnosis. “People with disabilities are just people,” Carter said. “We are just trying to have a normal life and want to be treated normally. We want to have a normal life and stay active and mobile as long as possible.” He said a key piece of advice he would tell people recently diagnosed with MS, is to just keep active and never give up. “Try to keep as normal life as possible,” he said. “It’s not the end of the world. From my experience, I would tell people to go out and keep active. I was lucky to have been brought up to stay positive in life. Staying positive is very important with any change.” He said he is looking forward to participating in the MS Walk with his family next weekend. He plans to hand cycle. MS, an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system, interrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. Walk MS will bring the community together to raise funds and celebrate hope for a future free of multiple sclerosis. For more information on the Walk MS Folsom, visit walkmsnorcal.org, call (800) 344-4867 or e-mail walksupport@nmss.org.