By Jeffrey Heyden-Kaye
Grab some oven mitts, smeared reading glasses and try to play a round of golf. This simulates what it is like for someone who has multiple sclerosis, explained Ellen Geddes, events co-ordinator for the Multiple Sclerosis Society’s central Alberta chapter. Geddes said participants raised more than $42,000 at their 100 Holes of Golf Challenge on Sept. 12 at the Wolf Creek Golf Resort.
Fundraisers were decked out in their loudest, wildest clothes to enliven the day, playing a best ball format. Geddes said the 100 holes can be tough on players but everyone was there to support the society’s aims. The MS Society has hosted the golf fundraiser for 12 years and chose Wolf Creek to help increase the number of golfers who come to the event and dollars raised.
“This is our second year here with Wolf Creek, and we came here to recruit more golfers; we have increased our number in the last two years.” Geddes said in previous years they could manage only 50 players but since the move their numbers have in creased to more than 70.
Amber Coady, from Red Deer, was diagnosed five years ago with MS and was fundraising even before she was diagnosed.
“It’s fun to go out and raise awareness and funds,” explained Coady, who wants to come back again next year.
Mustang Helicopters from Blackfalds donated an hour of scenic sightseeing for four passengers to a silent auction and had one of their choppers on display at the course.
“It’s part of our corporate culture to support charities and to be a part of the community,” explained Tim Boyle, vice-president of operations.
Fundraisers could enjoy a massage at the members’ clubhouse in between rounds to keep them loose as they played. Geddes said the society’s strength is in its long-standing history and low administration fees, around 27 per cent in Canada.
Money raised is down compared to last year, according to Geddes, who said it is partly due to a recession in the economy.
Another reason why they have lost financial support is due to the recent and controversial CCSVI treatment (Chronic cerebro-spinal venous insufficiency). Italian Dr. Paolo Zamboni found blood from the brain and spine had trouble returning to the heart. More than 90 per cent of the participants in his study were afflicted with MS.
His practice is to use a stent in the veins that drain to the brain and spinal cord, increasing blood flow and reducing iron deposits. This treatment, also called the “liberation treatment” has been shown to reduce symptoms in people with MS.
The controversy stems from reliability of the research, procedure and which types of multiple sclerosis it will benefit.
Geddes said the MS Society of Canada has given $1 million to research of the treatment and is lobbying the Canadian government to donate another $10 million. There are drug treatments available to Canadians to help mitigate effects of the disease and some steroids to help with relapses.