Marcy Fleeharty had no idea her great aunt had multiple sclerosis until only days before Saturday’s Walk MS Hagerstown at Antietam National Battlefield.
Fleeharty, of Berkeley Springs, W.Va., said she already had decided to take part in Saturday’s walk for her friend’s mother, who was diagnosed with the chronic, often disabling disease.
“Two days ago, talking to my mother, I found out my grandmother’s sister had MS. I had no clue,” Fleeharty said.
“The fact that the walks are designed to bring awareness works,” Fleeharty said as she and her friend, Lindsay Unger, finished the last several yards of the walk.
They were among more than 700 people who walked in the event, according to Melissa Ward, community development manager for the Maryland chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Participants had raised about $75,000 for research, services and programs to help fight MS, Ward said. The organization’s annual fundraising campaign year comes to a close June 1.
“We’re really fortunate to have another successful year here,” said Ward, who credited the local event committee for being “the stars of the show.”
Near the finish line this year, the committee hung an assembly of T-shirts that were designed for past MS walks, Ward said.
Committee Chairman Rodney Cline of Boonsboro said he and his wife, Connie, became involved with the event soon after his daughter, Jennifer Poffenberger, was diagnosed with MS about 13 years ago.
“You would never know she has MS,” Cline said.
Saturday’s pleasant temperatures and sunny conditions certainly didn’t hurt turnout, but Cline said the donations still came in the year when rain “poured” down.
Since their involvement began, Cline said the walk has grown from raising about $20,000 or so to more than $70,000.
“I just hope the sandwiches hold out,” Cline said of the food donated by Subway. Breakfast food for the event was provided Hadley Farms of Smithsburg and Sanders Cookie Jar, Ward said. Leiter’s Fine Catering provided coffee, hot water and tea bags, according to event organizers.
“You never know how exactly how many people are going to turn out,” he said.
The top fundraising teams as of Saturday were Joe’s Hard Times, MB’s Angels and 101.5 Bob Walks, officials said. The largest team, with more than 60 members, was Lisa’s Brigade.
Cline’s daughter, who is among those who have raised more than $1,000 to be members of the Elite Feet Club, said the battlefield is a great site for the event.
“We’re appreciate the (park service) allows us to do the event here,” Poffenberger said.
Cline lauded the efforts of event coordinator Amanda Glenn.
“She does a wonderful job,” Cline said.
Fleeharty was impressed with the water and snack stations along the walk route.
“Fantastic!” she said.