Like most people, Dustina Nichols didn't give multiple sclerosis much thought.
But that changed last year when the 33-year-old mother of two from Dublin was diagnosed with the disease that attacks the central nervous system and can cause numbness in the limbs, paralysis or loss of vision.
"I never thought twice about MS until I was diagnosed with it," Nichols said.
"I knew what it was, but I was never involved. It wasn't that I didn't care, I just didn't know much about it," she said.
Things have changed in the past year and Nichols is a captain of a team in the Columbus MS walk April 20 at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. Last year, Nichols was diagnosed a few weeks before the local MS walk and was able to participate.
She found out about the walk not through a doctor, but a brochure at a store she was researching wedding cakes at.
"It was sort of like it was meant to be," Nichols said.
While she didn't have much time to gather a big team, Nichols enjoyed her first MS walk and is looking forward to her second walk and first time as a team captain.
"It was great. They say it's a walk, but you can look at the animals," she said. "You can take breaks whenever you need to... It's just like going to the zoo, but you're doing it for a good cause.
"It was very nice and organized very, very well."
This year, Nichols has 30 to 50 people on her team and is working toward awareness and education.
"That's why this is so important," she said. "People need to understand that this can happen to anybody. I have two kids and just got married.
"This can happen to everybody. I'm only 33."
To raise money for the April 20 walk, Team Nichols will hold a fundraiser at McCasky's Grille, 520 S. Front St., in the Brewery District from 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday, April 13.
Entry into the event is $10 and includes hors d'oeuvres and a drink ticket.
"There will be fundraising, food, raffles (and) a silent auction at the event," said Sarah Smith, a Team Nichols member. "All proceeds go the MS Society."
Local businesses donated food and silent auction items to the fundraiser.
"It's so amazing when you do these things how much people give," Smith said. "Food has been donated from area vendors."
The silent auction will include restaurant gift certificates, tickets for Columbus Clippers and Crew, an autographed Ohio State University football and theme baskets.
"There's a wine basket," Nichols said. "There are a lot of different baskets. Scrambler Marie's is donating a basket."
Check in for the 1.5-mile Columbus MS walk starts at 7:30 with the opening ceremony set for 8 a.m.
For more information on the event or to donate, look online at walkoha.nationalmssociety.org.