Four local women will participate in the three-day, MS Challenge Walk, Sept. 5-7, to raise money for the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society. But first they need to raise lots of money.
"Each person has to raise $1,500 just to walk," said Bonnie Kandel, 36, of Centre Ridge. "Our goal is $10,000 as a team."
Toward that end, her Team UndeFEETed is holding a huge fund-raiser, Friday, May 2, from 7-9 p.m. upstairs in Centreville's Fire Station 17 on Old Centreville Road. Sixteen "Home Show" vendors will offer their wares, and attendees may vie for some terrific raffle and silent-auction items.
"We'd especially like to thank Chief Pete Kirby and Barbara Sneiderman from Station 17 who have graciously donated their largest room for our event," said Kandel. "Without their generosity, this could not have taken place."
In addition, vendors will donate gifts to raffle off and will contribute 50 percent of that night's profits to the MS Society. And Crest Cleaners will give 100 gift cards ($25 each) to the first 75 people arriving.
Vendors include: Creative Memories, Discovery Toys, Longaberger Baskets, Mary Kay, Pampered Chef, M-isms, Options of South Riding, Partylite, Premier Jewelry, Petra Fashions, Southern Living, Stampin' Up, The Bag Ladies, Tastefully Simple, Tupperware and Usborne Books.
Raffle items include gift certificates from local merchants for tanning, hair care, lessons from the Black Belt Academy and stays at Candlewood Suites. Also raffled will be gift certificates from Bonefish Grill, Sweetwater Tavern, Old Glory, Glory Days, Red Rocks, O'Toole's, Bertucci's, Ruby Tuesday's, Outback Steakhouse, Backyard Grill, Rosemary's Thyme Bistro, Shade Tree, Red Robin, Don Pablo's, Ciro's and Uno's.
Silent auction items include dinner and a stay at Candlewood Suites and Marriott SpringHill Suites, lessons at Black Belt Academy and service and/or merchandise from Centreville Tire and Auto, Barnes and Noble, Mary Kay, Avon, and Skin Appeal Day Spa.
Raffle tickets are $5; winners need not be present. However, silent auction winners must claim their prizes in person. For advance raffle tickets, call Kandel at 222-3985. Donations to Team UndeFEETed, payable to the MS Society, may be mailed to Deb Abramczyk, 6413 Guard Mount Court, Centreville, VA 20121.
Then comes the hard part for team members Kandel, Abramczyk, Jenni Burch and Astrid Lohman — preparing for the three-day, 50-mile walk from Annapolis to Washington, D.C. to help fund MS research.
Nearly 400,000 Americans have this chronic, often disabling disease that randomly attacks the central nervous system. There's no known cause or cure, yet some 200 people a week are diagnosed with it.
Kandel goes to a gym each week, but her husband laughed when she said she was going to walk 50 miles. "So I told him, not only could I do it, but I would," she said. "My mother-in-law has MS. As long as I've known her, she's been in a wheelchair. She's 58 and lives in New York. I'm a physical therapist and, because of that, I want to help her, but can't — so I want to do something."
Kandel also wants to show her sons, 5 and 7, that, although they can't always help someone directly, they can do so indirectly: "She'd do anything for those kids, so I want to do [likewise] for her. I can't push a button and [make her well], but I can do this."
Centre Ridge's Abramczyk is participating because her good friend has MS and she's walking in support of him and his family. "I like the challenge of the whole thing," she explained. "I know the disease can be crippling, but I'm healthy enough to walk 50 miles and I hope to make a difference."
She and Lohman decided to do the walk, as did Kandel and Burch, so all four women formed a team for motivation and moral support. "You're more willing to do things if you know others are relying on you," said Abramczyk. "And walking 50 miles can get pretty boring by yourself."
The foursome plans to begin walking in their neighborhood. "Our goal is to eventually be able to go two or three miles at a time," said Abramczyk. "We're hoping to raise the money first and then concentrate on training for the walk."
Since all four knew vendors, they decided on the fund-raiser. And a co-worker of Abramczyk's, Kristie Wenzel of Herndon, helped spread the word and organize things and will sell raffle tickets that night.
Burch, 33, teaches junior kindergarten at Chesterbrook Academy in Centre Ridge. All four women have children there, and the school is also helping them raise funds. It's holding bake sales, the last Thursday and Friday of each month, and a carwash during spring break raised $205.
"I'm doing the walk as a personal challenge and to support my friends," said Burch, who's walking on treadmills and trails to prepare. They'll walk 20 miles, each of the first two days, and 10 miles, the third day, with all walkers crossing the finish line together.
Centre Ridge's Lohman, 34, has done MS walks before. "A family member has it, so I do it for him," she said. "I exercise a lot and run three miles, three times a week, so it's easy."
What's important, she said, is "finding a cure for this devastating disease. It's unpredictable and you don't know its course or outcome; it's emotional because of the unknown. So the more money people give, the more research can be done."