An Upper Arlington High School freshman who's witnessed the effects of multiple sclerosis on her mother has joined with friends in hopes of raising money and awareness to fight the disease.
The Ohio Buckeye Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society will hold its annual walk April 20.
The event, which consists of a 1.5-mile walk and includes fundraising for MS research by participating teams, will be held at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium, 4850 W. Powell Road, Columbus. The site opens at 7:30 a.m., and opening ceremonies will begin at 8 a.m.
Among teams helping to provide emotional and financial support -- the regional event has raised more than $10 million since 1988 -- will be Lauri's Legs, founding by Upper Arlington High School freshmen Erica Hartmus, Lida Linville and Madison Wolf.
Lauri's Legs was established in honor of Wolf's mother, Lauri Wolf, who is one of more than 7,000 people in central Ohio living with MS. Wolf has battled the disease for more than a decade.
MS is a chronic, often disabling illness that attacks the central nervous system.
"My mom, Lauri, is a quadriplegic who was diagnosed with progressive multiple sclerosis in 1999," Madison Wolf said. "Over the years, I've watched my mom's MS gradually worsen and her fight for the duration of her life.
"My friends and I wanted to show my mom how much we cared by creating this team in honor of her."
Yabo's Tacos is providing team T-shirts, and other local businesses, including Schakolad Chocolate Factory, Huffman's Market, Ace Nutter Hardware and Old Bag of Nails have either donated to the team or to the Multiple Sclerosis Society.
However, the students are still looking for people of all ages to join Lauri's Legs.
"What we are doing is creating this team to spread awareness of MS," Hartmus said.
Prospective Lauri's Legs participants, as well as those who simply wish to contribute financially, can do so online through the website at http://walkoha.nationalmssociety.org/site/TR?fr_id=19516&pg=entry.
Once on the Ohio Buckeye Chapter's page, there is a "Team Info" link, and from there, visitors can navigate to a "Team List" link that provides the names of each team currently signed up for the Columbus MS Walk, including Lauri's Legs.
The registration fee is $25 for each person older than 10 and $10 for ages 2-9.
"Not many people know what MS is and how much it affects MS victims' lives, so we created a team to help not only raise money to find a cure but to simply spread awareness," Hartmus said.
As of Monday, March 18, Lauri's Legs had just four people committed to participate in the walk, including its three founding members.
Linville said they're hoping for a recruitment push in the month prior to the walk.
"The money goes to helping everyday MS victims with treatment, rehab and programs that help people coping with MS and, of course, finding a cure," she said.
Additional information about MS is available online at www.nationalmssociety.org.