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West Island Self-Help Group’s MS Walk 2017

Jill Clark –

MS Walk 2017 – Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease that affect the central nervous system. Its physical, emotional, and financial effects are unpredictable. In the worst cases, it causes paralysis and blindness. Other symptoms include extreme fatigue, numbness or pains in the limbs, and cognitive impairment.

“There’s the highest diagnoses per capita of multiple sclerosis in Canada than anywhere else in the world,” said Nicole Duchastel, the Director of the West Island MS Self-Help Group. It’s more important than ever for Montrealers to support the cause. It affects our neighbours. Plus, “the diagnostic is happening more and younger.”

The West Island Self-Help Group’s annual MS Walk is scheduled for Sunday, May 28 from 10am to noon. This is the 18th year of the “5k walk or roll.” Over 200 MS walks are scheduled for the same day across Canada—17 of those are in Quebec.

“It’s a family event, and it’s a lot of fun. We try to make it more fun year to year,” said Duchastel. Walkers are encouraged to make teams of four people or more, although individual walkers are always welcome. “The teams are a lot of fun,” with costumes, cheering, and photo-ops. The West Island MS Walk doesn’t discriminate either: “You can bring pets, kids—anybody!”

The West Island Self-Help Group tries to find local guests to inspire participation in the fundraiser. This year’s guests are extra special: “We managed to secure some Olympians and Paralympians.” The participating Olympians are from the Montreal area.

While this year’s guests aren’t necessarily personally connected to the fight against MS, they will walk alongside other fighters to raise awareness. Many of the guests have inspiring stories of their own. “They have amazing stories,” Duchastel said. “There are parallels in terms of struggle and going beyond what you think is possible.” Perseverance is a similar quality between the Olympians and those affected by multiple sclerosis.

“With MS—particularly progressive MS—they have a lot of challenges and things they have to give up, but life has to go on,” said Duchastel about the Self-Help Group members. The Olympians have seen similar struggles, without diminishing anyone’s individual challenges. “I just thought they were inspiring.”

Last year’s walk brought 500 walkers and raised $108 000. This year, Nicole Duchastel hopes the city pulls together $115 000. People can donate without walking, and there is no minimum pledge amount.

85 percent of the funds raised goes to the Quebec Division of the MS Society of Canada. The other 15 percent goes directly to the West Island Self-Help Group’s services and members.


May 28, 2017 from 10am-noon
Preregister at
Ecole secondaire des Sources, 2900 Lake St, DDO

To see the article in the Montreal Times 22.57 April 12, 2017 edition please click on the above image
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