WELLSBURG - Kim Chapline-Byers of Wellsburg has received a heavy blow, even among those who suffer from multiple sclerosis, a debilitating disease, but she's chosen not to let it keep her down or from helping others with MS.
With the support of her friends and family, four years ago she initiated the first in a series of walks at Brooke High School to benefit many who suffer from MS.
This year the walk will have a new name, simply Kim's Walk, with a simple purpose- to help local residents to meet needs spurred by the disease and other neurological disorders.
Plans call for the event to be held Nov. 2.
Though it's several months away, she and her fellow organizers are holding a book sale from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 26 to kick off fundraising efforts.
The sale will be held at the Franklin Community Fire Department on state Route 27, about 5 miles from Wellsburg. There also will be coffee, tea and assorted snacks for sale.
For a few months Chapline-Byers and her friends have been collecting donations of books and videos with the help of the fire department, Follansbee Fire Department, Jackie's Florist and Rockdale Village Apartments.
Chapline-Byers recalled being diagnosed with MS on Dec. 26, 2007. She had suffered from ear infections for months, then she noticed her left foot began to drag. Soon she was losing her balance and she became nauseous for 4 months, causing her to lose about 50 pounds.
Now, she deals with limited mobility and diminished vision and hearing.
Connie Kafton, a friend from Follansbee who also has MS, noted the disease's symptoms vary from person to person.
Researchers have found the disease results from an autoimmune disorder that causes a person's immune system to attack myelin, a substance surrounding and protecting nerve fibers in the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves.
But the cause hasn't been determined, though advances in medicine have many people with MS to cope better with its symptoms.
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society reports there are about 400,000 Americans with the disease.
Chapline-Byers said there are plans to incorporate snowflakes into the walk's T-shirts because as with snowflakes, no two MS patients are alike.
She said whether organizing the walk or going about her daily life, she's been very fortunate to have the support of her family and friends.
Anyone interested in assisting with the walk is welcome to join Chapline-Byers and her group, which meets at 6 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of each month at The Crooked Dock restaurant.
(Scott can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)