A national effort is coming to central Ohio this month to raise awareness and money for medical research to combat debilitating neurological disorders.

The first Walk & Roll for GBS-CIDP in central Ohio will be held at 9 a.m. Sept. 23 at Wolfe Park, 105 Park Drive near Bexley.

The event encourages volunteers to form teams to walk or "roll" one mile, sponsored by donations from friends, family, colleagues and organizations. Proceeds will support the work of the GBS-CIDP Foundation International, which provides services to individuals with Guillain-Barre syndrome, chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy and multifocal motor neuropathy.

GBS is a neurological disorder in which the body's immune system mistakenly attacks part of its peripheral nervous system, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. CIDP is a neurological disorder characterized by progressive weakness and impaired sensory function in the legs and arms.

MMN is a disorder in which focal areas of multiple motor nerves are attacked by one's own immune system.

Deb Knisley, a Westerville resident who was diagnosed with CIDP in 2006, is among those participating in the Walk & Roll.

Knisley, who uses a "rollator," or a rolling walker, for walking assistance, has assembled a team of friends and family to accompany her and help raise money.

"The more people that show up at Wolfe Park, the greater the impact it's going to have in terms of raising awareness for GBS-CIDP," she said. "Some of my teammates have also elected to get involved in fundraising. I have been actively involved."

A retired teacher, Knisley, 52, said her symptoms began in what is considered a typical fashion for CIDP. In the five months leading up to her diagnosis, she said she experienced tingling and numbness in her limbs, fatigue, balance issues, progressive muscle weakness, and difficulty walking and gripping with her hands.

Her primary-care physician sent her for electromyography with nerve conduction studies, she wrote on her event fundraising page. Two days later, she met with a neurologist and was scheduled for several blood tests, X-rays, an MRI and a spinal tap, In the ensuing weeks, she was diagnosed with CIDP and admitted to the hospital for five days of immunoglobulin infusions, she wrote.

Ultimately, she was admitted to the neuro-intensive care unit at a hospital, where one of the nurses said it was just in the nick of time. Her condition quickly deteriorated as she experienced burning and stabbing pain, tremors, severe muscle spasms, facial weakness and partial paralysis, she wrote.

Knisley said she is now in remission, although she has suffered permanent nerve damage. She said she has chronic pain and fatigues easily.

She credits the support of her husband of 25 years, Sid, and their family and friends with helping her to maintain a positive outlook. She said she's looking forward to joining them for the Walk & Roll.

"I want to make it a good inaugural year," she said. "I'd like there to be a second (Walk & Roll) and for it to keep growing."

To register or to make donations, visit gbs-cidp.org.

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