Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

April 4, 2013

Family getting running start to support others with MS

Nicole Dominique
Effingham Daily News

TEUTOPOLIS — One family's personal experience with multiple sclerosis has prompted them to step out — or rather run out — of their comfort zone to raise money for the disease.

On May 11, runners and walkers will be asked to ditch their active wear and don formal wear instead for the inaugural Run in a Dress for MS.

The 5K run and one mile family walk will benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to bring awareness about the disease and support families who struggle with the added costs of treatments.

“We came up with the idea when one of our family members was diagnosed with MS at a young age,” said coordinator Phil Habing. “We knew a few others diagnosed with MS in  the Effingham area, and we were relieved to find the society... We wanted to do something to pay it forward.”

The Habing family hopes to see an outpouring of support for residents with MS. Although the Habing sibling diagnosed with the disease wishes to remain anonymous, Phil did say she has found a three-time-a-week injection treatment that works for her.

“Tough kid,” he said.

Phil noted there are a lot of good treatment options becoming available to treat MS.

“Most of your main treatments are injections. Oral medicine is just coming out... We're trying to not only fund research but fund medicines. They're fairly expensive. Fortunately we had some help with that,” he said.

The 5K has been in the works for several months, complete with a website and a Facebook page.

Running is something the Habings have recently picked up as a family activity, so the idea for a race as a fundraiser came easily for them.

“We've had fun participating at these events, especially themed events,” Phil said. “We thought it would be fun to come up with a catchy name. We've never done this in our community. It'll bring something unique for people to remember and have a good time in the process.”

The family also thought the event would be a perfect way to emphasize an active lifestyle.

“The main thing for her, or any MS patient, is to lead a healthy life, to exercise and eat well,” Phil said. “Running is therapy for your mind. It's been taking our (the family's) minds off of it a little bit. It still keeps us focused on the goal — to advance research and financial aid programs.”

To register online, visit www.runinadress4MS.com by April 27. The cost to participate is $25, which includes an event T-shirt. Children 12 and under will run or walk for free but not receive a shirt.

Runners are encouraged to visit thrift shops or old closets to come up with the most unique, eye-catching outfit possible for the event.

The 5K and one-mile walk begin at 10 a.m. on May 11, with check-in at 9 a.m. The races will begin at the Teutopolis Knights of Columbus Hall parking lot, loop south and come back to the start

With multiple sclerosis the most common disabling neurological disease among young adults right now, Phil said the Habings have seen lots of support and personal experiences on Facebook and their website. The event already has about 70 registrants and continues to approach the goal of 100 runners and walkers.

“Seeing sponsors, donations and people registering for the race is a confidence boost,” he said. “If we hadn't done this, those dollars wouldn't be going to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. WE're so thankful for everyone's support. It makes us feel we're doing something worthy, and I think it's brought us together.”

Nicole Dominique can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 138, or at nicole.dominique@effinghamdailynews.com.