Walking for a Cure

Walking for a Cure

GMU students, recent graduates gather at local bar to raise money for multiple sclerosis.

When Damian O’Rourke heard his friend Kristy Manas was raising money for multiple sclerosis, he felt compelled to help her because it was for a good cause.

“She’s a friend of mine,” said O’Rourke. “She was looking for sponsorship.”

Manas’ mother, Theresa, was diagnosed with the disease in 1999 and she hasn’t given up hope that a cure is possible. That is why Kristy Manas walks in the Chesapeake Bay MS Challenge Walk, a two-day, 50-kilometer walk from Baltimore to Annapolis. In three years, walkers have raised more than $3 million. O’Rourke and Kristy Manas have gathered many of their friends from George Mason University to sponsor them in the walk, and many of their friends from the soccer team at GMU have agreed to do the walk as well.

“He’s [O’Rourke] gotten more involved than anyone I’ve asked,” said Kristy Manas.

To raise money for the event, the two conducted a fund-raiser happy hour at Auld Shebeen, 3971 Chain Bridge Road, on Friday, Aug. 25. O’Rourke’s friend, Dominic Keane, is one of the owners at Auld Shebeen, so they worked out a deal for the fund raiser. From 5:30-9:30 p.m., half of the proceeds generated from the food and alcohol sales from the main floor of the restaurant, about $300 were donated to the MS walk. Another $125 was raised from donations by the 20-30 people who attended.

“We want to get the word out about MS,” said Kristy Manas. “It’s not as prime time as breast cancer.”

Their team of just six walkers has already raised more than $12,000. Theresa Manas is leading the pack with $6,475 raised so far. The walk is Sept. 16-17, and team members are confident they will reach their $20,000 goal in time. Kristy Manas said people really “come out of the woodwork” to help out, even if they don’t know anyone with the disease.

“Even people with no connection at all have signed up,” said Kristy Manas. “You meet a lot of people.”

“It’s for a great cause,” said Keane.

WHEN O'ROURKE and Kristy Manas went to Auld Shebeen a few nights before the fund-raiser to get the details in order, they learned the bartender also has a mother with MS. Michael Davidson said he was looking forward to helping them with a cause so close to home for him.

“I just learned about it and I wanted to help,” said Davidson.

Kristy Manas said she tries not to think about what the disease does to her mother too much. Every now and then, Kristy Manas said her mother has “an episode.” It could mean anything from temporary vision impairment or loss, to a complete loss of mobility. The medicine she takes helps, but Kristy Manas said she wants it to get better.

“I try to make her life as easy as possible,” said Kristy Manas. “She likes having someone there to motivate her.”

According to research from the National MS Society, “early and ongoing treatment with an FDA-approved therapy can reduce future disease activity and improve quality of life for many people with multiple sclerosis.” That is why the Manas walking team, called Team Roadrunner, is so dedicated to the cause. Kristy Manas want to find more ways to ease the pain that the disease has on her mother.

“Money raised for research through the MS Challenge Walk keeps that hope alive,” said Theresa Manas.